I've been in the advertising business for nearly 40 years, and, like Howard Beale, the wild-eyed TV news anchor played by Peter Finch (Best Actor Oscar) in the 1976 film classic, Network, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more." I'm no longer willing to sit idly by while the industry I've devoted my working life to makes such a fool of itself. If anyone feels offended by what follows here, too bad. Take your best shot and prove me wrong if you don't agree with me (my contact info follows). But you'll forgive me if I don't hold my breath.
We've gone from the relative intimacy of a three-network television advertising universe to a limitless online behemoth that has destroyed the very notion of relationship, personal or otherwise. It was bad enough for Howard Beale. It's much worse for us. We've been rendered speechless by the latest algorithmic interpretation of human behavior; mute subjects of a stark naked, functionally illiterate emperor. We should be embarrassed by the way we flail away in pursuit of virtual failure.
The beginning of the end was the disappearance of original jingles from the airwaves. I can see the empty suits sitting around the table at GM now extolling the virtues of "Like a Rock" as a more expedient path to consumer top-of-mind than Dinah Shore's iconic See the USA in your Chevrolet. And heaven knows that GM could shore use a little Dinah these days.
But that was then and this is now. Audiences have been so fragmented that brand recognition has become practically impossible to build, even with a clever tune. The emotional bond between brand and consumer that Bill Bernbach and Hal Riney extolled and that Dinah Shore sung about has given way to a spreadsheet on the planning side, and to a 20-something webmaster on the creative side. How can a 20-something be a master of anything? And how can there be so many of them?
Who can deny that progress has "tweeted" uspoorly? What was originally heralded as a level playing field has become a mine field, instead. Remember just prior to the online explosion, when the TV guys were talking about a 500-channel universe? Everyone said: "How in the world are you going to program 500 channels? There are only a couple of dozen channels now and there's never anything good on!" Did we heed the warning? Hell no we didn't. We bypassed the 500-channel TV middleman lurking behind door number two and went straight to the billion-channel online option behind door number three.
A wise choice indeed. Advertisers who used to be able to reach the entire country via only three TV networks, now measure online success in terms of ad response rates of .35%! Talk about precision! Thanks to the quants now running the show, we are absolutely certain that our best-laid media plans fail exactly 99.65% of the time. So, pardon me if I "go Beale" on you right here and now by proclaiming: I'm sick to death of all this crap and I'm going to do something about it?
And I'm going to start by whetting your appetite for a company whose branding and PR is handled by my brother, Jeff, and me. This company comprises the web's largest video ad network, whose name I'll be happy to divulge to anyone who contacts me. It's the best media model I've ever seen, and once you check it out, you'll agree.
Our branding efforts characterize this company as Something that works for a change. An idea whose time has come…again! A giant step back to the future. This business model effectively eliminates the expense and futility of micro-targeting by-the-ton, and replaces it with a simple consumer-driven process that lets your customers target you. We further describe it by saying "we not only bring qualified customers to your door, we deliver them right inside your online showroom!" And you pay only for visitors sent directly to your website. Pretty good deal, huh?
But, maybe you like betting on a .35% chance of winning. Heck, if you can afford to piss away 99.65% of you money, you probably won't even complain a few years from now when that same .35% is a pipe dream.
You deserve better. We all do. And I can help. Drop me an email at email@example.com and I promise I won't waste your time. But like I said, forgive me if I don't hold my breath.
About Mike Einstein and the Brothers Einstein
Mike Einstein is one-half of the Brothers Einstein, a creative strategy and branding boutique. The Brothers Einstein help select rapid-growth clients protect their media investments with superior creative and brand strategies.