An ode to the salesman in all of us.
January 7, 2009
Willy ain’t going anywhere.
One of the many, many great lines in Richard Yates masterful American novel, Revolutionary Road comes during a business lunch between the main character, Frank Wheeler and the boss at his company. They are discussing a promotion for Frank in the sales department. The honcho tells Frank, “Everything is sales.” He goes on to elaborate how and why every single human interaction is, in fact, “selling something to someone.” As proof he offers Frank the delectable notion that “you wouldn’t be here if your Pop hadn’t sold your mother a bill of goods.”
My creative partner, Blake Ebel just wrote an essay for Talent Zoo entitled “Salesmanship isn’t a four letter word.” In it, Blake makes the following point about clients: “If they had the choice between a salesman and an artist, who do you think they’d choose?”
Salesmen! That’s what copywriters and art directors always were and always will be. In the 60’s, Doyle Dane & Bernbach made selling “creative.” In the 70s, everyone did blow and nothing got done. In the 80s, Leo Burnett talked about building brands with “big, enduring ideas.” In the 90s, Saatchi gave us planning. In the 21st century, it’s about getting into a “conversation” with the “consumer.” All good stuff. But it’s all a means to the same glorious end: selling.
Look at 2009. It’s back to the basics. After all, there’s a recession on. What’s the unique selling proposition?
Wait a sec. The USP! Wasn’t that our industry’s catchphrase about a million years ago?
What goes around comes around. I don’t care if you’re Crispin, Porter or fricking Bogusky, you’re a salesman. Word.
Friday, Part II: Gods/ The year in Review.