Grousing between Leno & Conan not unlike fussing in AdLand.

January 19, 2010


Leo & Leno: kickin’ it old school.

I’ve tweeted once or twice about the drama between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. I likened their tribulations to that of two big, dumb advertising agencies bickering over diminishing relevance and lost revenues. In fairness to both parties, I haven’t watched either of their shows in years.

In College, my roommates and I used to collect around the communal TV and watch The Late Show with David Letterman. He was the hip alternative to Johnny Carson. Not your father’s talk show. Later, my wife and I watched “Dave” before going to bed. On at 11:30 PM, she would invariably fall asleep on the couch. I got bored too. Toward the end, we were only sticking around for Dave’s Top Ten List, a cultural touchstone (albeit a minor one). Then came the Internet. Talk shows became hopelessly old-fashioned and, in my opinion, irrelevant. Listening to Goldie Hawn shrilly shill for her latest crappy movie held zero interest.

The rise and fall of late night talk shows does resemble the struggle in our beleaguered advertising industry. With the marginalization of TV and the emergence of new media, ad agencies have had a hell of a time staying relevant. The key to survival is reinvention. Some agencies will do better than others. As will certain talk show formats. Given the parallels, I thought it might be fun to play a little game: comparing talk show hosts and advertising agencies. Who is most like which?

David Letterman and BBDO. Currently at the top of their respective heaps. A tad arrogant. That hint of scandal. Getting on. Can these two New York franchises stay on top, if not culturally important?

DDB and Conan O’Brien. Rock stars in the late nineties, both could consistently bring the funny. Now one detects a whiff of desperation. Still, with pedigrees like these one can’t ever count them out. And why would you?

Leo Burnett and Jay Leno. Old school. Lots of shtick. American as Chevy and perhaps just as vulnerable. Both have big chins against the constant jabs of a modern world. When they try being hip it makes me cringe. Leo & Leno: Just do your thing!

Odd fact: In the 70’s and 80’s Burnett and DDB feuded constantly (and notoriously) over the McDonald’s account.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky… The irreverent bad boys. Are they more like Craig Ferguson, Jon Stewart or Colbert? Polarizing but relevant, they’re usually the only ones worth visiting You Tube to view.

My shop? Euro RSCG is like Jimmy Fallon. Occasionally brilliant. Occasionally not. New… random…but with lots of chutzpah! We’ll see.

Did I miss anyone? Who cares? It’s only a game. And this is only a silly blog by a silly man. My intent wasn’t to critique or offend. I haven’t listed a shop I wasn’t (or wouldn’t be) honored to work for.😉

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2 Responses to “Grousing between Leno & Conan not unlike fussing in AdLand.”

  1. adchick said

    “The key to survival is reinvention.” True in every business…politics. Even religion. You name it. If you’re not refreshing/changing/reinventing, you’ll either go out of business or die a slow death.

  2. i would hazard to say that some of the agencies you mentioned are a little closer to mike douglas than they’d care to admit.

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