Thou Shalt Not Shill: Advertising's New Religion

Advertisings new religion David Lubars, BBDO's new creative director is featured in a meaty interview over at New York magazine.

One word that is big in Lubars’s vocabulary is shill. It gets turned into the noun shilliness, the adjective shilly, and a host of separate verb forms—to shill, to be shilled, to shill at. There is no greater term of contempt to Lubars. Shilliness encompasses a whole host of possible practical and moral failings in advertising—to be untrue, strident, hackneyed, unconvincing, obvious. “Remember the thing in Wayne’s World,” Lubars asks me, “where the guy says, ‘All this commercialism, I can’t stand it, it’s giving me a headache,’ and he’s wearing a Reebok hat and jacket? And the other guy goes, ‘Here, try this—Nuprin: little, better, yellow, different.’ ” Lubars sees his project—sees the project of advertising—as getting beyond little-better-yellow-different. Lubars leans in to make his point: “I’m saying, give the audience something real. Something that’s really entertaining and cool. Something I wouldn’t mind doing for ten minutes of my private life.”
. Hat tip to Kelly.
AnonymousCoward's picture
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caffeinegoddess's picture

I liked this quote from Lubars:

Lubars sometimes refers to the audience as
troymcclure's picture

I agree, Caffeinegoddess, that's a nice quote. The irony is that many of today's "hottest" shops do exactly what Lubars decries: They try to reach consumers through elaborately conceived and constructed multi-media hoaxes (i.e., Weiden's Beta 7 campaign for Sega, Crispin's BMW Mini "Robots").

The article itself was very interesting - and very depressing. Hearing someone as talented and intelligent as Lubars talk about marketing in terms of marriage and relationships makes me cringe. OK, I know we're all basically whores in this business. But really - you should have relationships with other people, not peanut butter or sneakers or soft drinks or cars. This is the kind of materalism runk amok that gives advertising a bad name to begin with.

caffeinegoddess's picture

I think some of the multi-media hoaxes you speak of sound more like the brain-children of marketers who aren't convinced that they can reach their target audience with more traditional mediums- and yes I'm including internet in that. Planting people in bars to "recommend" a particular brand and the like isn't going to go over well in the long run, at least I hope not. And even product placement has it's issues. Found this opinion piece - Product placement prickely predicament.

aiiobo's picture

This mendacious trend apparently started in the movies. One of the earliest examples dates back a half-century when, HowStuffWorks.com notes, "Gordon's Gin paid to have Katharine Hepburn's character in 'The African Queen' "toss loads of its product overboard." Since then, there have been countless placements in thousands of movies.

Interesting, people always say that the first product placement was the reeses pieces in E.T.