Happy birthday, Gods of Advertising: You’re “1” Part I
January 5, 2009
me before God, a church in Cannes.
Not including a few early and naive attempts, it was one year ago I officially started the Gods of Advertising. Like this year, I had been visiting my father in Palm Springs. My brother (Jeremy) had been with us as well. On top of a new son (Jasper), my brother had brought along his many technological contraptions and, with them, an almost fetishistic passion for the Internet.
He showed me fabulous, barely legal sites where he “obtained” new and unreleased music as well as classic recordings not generally available to mortal men. He revealed bloggers in Europe and even Russia, who were more than happy to “share” pieces of music they had pirated or illegally recorded. At that time, I’d used the blogospere primarily for reading up on advertising and even then, only sparingly. Sure, I adored the Internet for its access to infinite information, its killer websites, and, of course, email. But the blogospere was still more or less alien to me, a place for geeks and hardcore technophiles (like my brother).
Watching Jeremy converse with a man in Germany about old jazz records, I had an epiphany. It went something like this: If I’m talking and selling social networks to my clients (I was), shouldn’t I be social networking myself? At the time I didn’t even have a Facebook page, let alone any online friends. Lord knows I was beseeching my clients to pay attention (and money) to these popular entities. I’ve always believed in learning by doing. It became painfully clear to me that it was time I walked the walk.
And I haven’t stopped walking. The blogosphere was second life to me. I found news about my industry that was more vital than from my bookmarked trade publications. The American Copywriter, Adpulp, Adrants and others like them captured so much more than the trade press. And it was a different kind of more: more timely, often more prescient and, dare I say it, more fun. Adscam and Agency Spy, for all their vitriol, captivated me. I knew it was naughty but I had to participate.
And that’s the word, isn’t it: participate. Now I could navigate the worlds of other ad agencies, see inside the minds of other copywriters and creative directors. Not just view their work, but understand the why of it. When something dramatic happened at one agency or another, I became privy to it in ways the newspapers never allowed. It put the machinations of my own agency into an entirely new perspective. Other bloggers revealed insights into what was once proprietary. I found this invaluable when it came to steering my own ship. Icebergs ahead! Opportunity over there! And so on.
Another windfall was all the thinking and writing that participation required. Let’s face it- with over 60 writers and art directors working for me, I wasn’t penning much body copy anymore. Yes, I had my books and stories to write, but those were more an avocation. Blogging seemed to transcend my personal and professional worlds like nothing ever had before. Participating in this way became critical. On top of that I was honing my craft. I was relearning everything. Avoid adverbs and clichés. Get to the point. Who? What? Where? When? Why? Not since college had these lessons been so necessary.
This brings me to my final point. With Gods of Advertising, I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do all along: write. I think bloggers, by definition, are narcissistic. We like the sound of our own voices. We think out loud. We enjoy opining, often at the expense or on behalf of others. Either way, the blog let me do this and more.
Is Gods of Advertising a must read for everyone in the industry? Hardly. But for me, it is a “must write.” I try for three “columns” a week, come hell or high water. Hundreds of you visit the site every day. Not only am I grateful, I am compelled to try and reward you. When I choose a topic it is with you in mind. I am not venting (usually). I want you to be provoked and, in turn, to participate. Do I make mistakes? All the time. I learned the hard way not to pimp my own agency or its work. Even so, I continue to “advertise” my novels, The Happy Soul Industry and The Last Generation. When they’re best sellers I’ll stop.
Maybe one day GOA will be a win-win; in other words, the blog will be as good for you as it is for me! Until then, thank you for your patience, opinions and above all, your readership.
Next post, I’m going to continue this review, delving deeper into the motivations for blogging, as well as covering some of the mistakes I’ve made and what I’m doing to correct them. Until then, for a good laugh, check one of my very first posts –a reckless review of a Bruce Springsteen concert (!) October 23, 2007.