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“Mr. Clean represents patriarchy from some disgusting bygone day.”
“In a horrible fat-shaming society like America, Kool-Aid’s mascot is body positive. And it’s about time.”
“The only thing more horrifying than Pearl Drops racist all-white toothpaste is its anti-science stance on fluoride."
“Even KFC has to hide the fact it is from Kentucky. Because Kentucky is the south. And everyone knows the south is made up of nothing but racists. If you like KFC, you’re racist, too.”
Those headlines are coming to an ad blog near you. But not this one, of course. Rest assured, dear reader, that the people who are for Adland, are not that bat shit insane. We leave the increasing insanity of the rabid social justice warrior to the other blogs you know. They often judge ads through an extremely myopic lens so warped it’s a wonder they don’t need physical therapy from all the straining. The ones who judge ads based on everything but the idea behind the idea, which is what we should be judging the ad on. Give credit for credit’s due. At least certain ones like Jezebel live up to their names.
Adweek on the other hand, is a different story. Lately it has jumped on the same clickbait grabbing, frothy mouthed opinion piece masquerading as #Truth. And my question is, why is a once decent trade mag wallowing in the pigpen? Why has the focal point turned from "Will this ad persuade me?" or even better "Will this ad persuade the intended target market who probably isn't me?" to "How offended should we be?"
Before I answer, let me share a story: Last week I presented some work to our GCD’s. I believed in the work. They on the other hand, did not. Beyond not believing in the work, they made a joke wondering if the creative teams who made it were on LSD or drunk when they came up with it. Never mind the GCD’s asked to see “different,” work. Never mind the work was 100% on strategy. Never mind the fact it was the eighth weekend in a row the teams had worked. Beyond the complete lack of respect in their response, their feedback was useless. It was subjective, and harshly so. Not only were the teams insulted, they walked away with no more idea how to get work approved than before they presented.
This is how ad blogs are behaving. And that’s troubling. Because they aren’t critiquing the ad so much as taking a hardline stance against the ad’s messaging. They aren’t looking at the strategy of the communication so much as knee-jerk reacting to the end result because #science #truth #abortion #racism #climate #whatever. All the more absurd when you remember often times the ads they’re criticizing aren’t always ads from brands that have anything to do with science, vaccines, abortion or climate. They are so incredibly closed-minded and so incredibly biased, they’re like walking Archie Bunkers. Except they’re on the progressive side, of course. But outside of TV and and blogs, no one is that one sided. Humans are more complex than that.
When I sometimes read these ridiculous “analyses” I start thinking-- it has to be a joke, right? Like comedy masquerading as bad performance art?
I believe it is a joke. At least partly. As we’ve said before, with few exceptions, journalism is dead. The bar now isn’t as lofty as fostering a deep exchange of ideas or a proper analysis among people who may disagree but want to understand a different opinion . No, now the bar is “shut the other side up and get as many likes and retweets as possible.” If we can get a bevy of comments that vehemently refutes or supports the opinion piece in the comments section, so much the better. We don’t moderate that shit anyway, so have at it.That last part is extremely important in showing how much journalism has changed. In original ink and paper newspapers, letters to the editor were moderated to keep the crazy in the attic where it belonged. Now the door is wide open. It’s simple math, too: The crazier the comments, the more prejudiced the article.
The fault of this of course, lays squarely at the feet of the authors, who haven't worked for an ad agency ever, let alone stepped foot in one, and have absolutely no idea what the process of coming up with an ad entails. Let alone selling it, focus grouping it and producing it.
To be fair and give props where props are due, Adland isn't the only blog that still gives a shit about advertising. George Parker's Adscam is hilarious, plus he swears a lot and likes Kate Moss. Like really likes Kate Moss. He also works in the business. Bob Garfield, who to my knowledge never worked in advertising, understands the point of advertising and its flaws more than a lot of people who work in advertising. And Mark Copyranter Duffy, is another example of how you can be subjective about advertising where it matters most while still understanding advertising's function.
So now let's get to the Adweek Catholic piece. Either the author is so ignorant of American history they don’t know Catholics have had a bias against them since the colonies, or they know and they don’t want to destroy the one-sided narrative of their hit piece lest the likes and retweets drop. Because it’s all a joke, you see.
Generation Narcissist isn’t happy until they are part of the story. Trolling has replaced objectivity. And both “journalist,” and commenter are only happiest when their air of superiority is lorded over the rest of us. God’s work indeed. I wonder if every workday at these companies begins with the question: “How can we make this story more racist/homophobic/sexist?”
Actually, no I don’t.
What I really wonder is, if you are working in advertising, and know the feeling of having to endure your own creative directors dismissing your ideas for invalid, stupid and absurdly subjective reasons, how long will it be until you stop reading the blogs who shit all over your work for the same reasons? How long will it be until you can no longer take them seriously? More importantly if I am a brand, when will I start taking my money elsewhere?
If what happened over Gamergate is any indication, the answer is, soon.