February 26, 2009
A senior colleague at my agency is terrified of George Parker. Prior to joining us, he’d worked at an advertising agency that was regularly taking it on the chin, and elsewhere, from this merciless critic of, what he calls, Big Dumb Advertising Agencies, or BDAs.
For those unawares, Mr. Parker runs the wildly popular trade blog, AdScam/The horror! According to Parker, as many as 10,000 of us visit it daily. To put that in perspective, my blog gets close to 400 visitors a day and I’m damn thankful for them.
But ten thousand? Parker does it by offering content that’s unashamedly caustic, critical, profane and, most of the time, deadly accurate. If you don’t agree with me, take it from Ad God, Jeff Goodby who wrote as much in the preface to Parker’s new book, which I have now just completed.
The Ubiquitous Persuaders…
Meant to be an update of Vance Packard’s bestseller, The Hidden Persuaders, Parker manages to do just that and, surprisingly, sans the massive quantities of “piss and vinegar” pouring from his website.
Those familiar with Adscam may be surprised to find not the hard R Parker from his blog, but rather a more professorial version, cleaned-up and, dare I say, erudite. Could we have a Jekyll & Hyde in our midst? Dr. George the learned author. Mr. Parker the fiendish blogger!
After noticing the lack of four-letter words the second thing you’ll notice about the book is how well the man writes. Unlike his ripping and addictive blog, here we find well-crafted arguments fashioned by delightful prose. Sorry, George, but it’s true. You write like the voice of experience you so clearly are.
In a scant 200 or so pages, Parker has captured our business, filleted it, cooked it and served it right back to us… deliciously. He tells us where we’ve been as an industry and shows us where we’re going. I don’t agree with everything Parker writes but part of me wonders whether it’s more that I don’t want to agree with it. His vision of advertising does not suffer Fools and Asses. Unfortunately, it makes a lot of us look like them.
In a way, I think The Ubiquitous Persuaders is the first legitimate textbook on Modern Advertising: its beginning, middle and perhaps end. I’ve read most of the popular texts written about advertising, as has Parker, and yet this one feels definitive…like there’s nothing else left to say.
That is both a compliment to his book and, scarily, an indictment on our indust