The whine of sour grapes or telling my truth and not giving a damn!

December 30, 2020

Been a long time since I wrote about advertising. Why then is my blog called Gods of Advertising if I’m not writing about it? Well, for starters, what is there to write about? From a creative perspective, advertising became irrelevant around the time I did. You can quibble over the year and other details, perhaps cite a few exceptions, but you cannot deny the fact that few consumers (aka people with money to spend) pay advertising any heed. Save for the bottomless pit of transactional messaging permeating our screens, there isn’t much to write home about. Hasn’t been for years. I would say that 75% of every marketing dollar is spent on cliché’ ridden, data driven crap. Creativity in advertising was sick way before Corona virus. Now, it’s on life support.

Not long ago, the so-called Gods of Advertising (always meant to be an ironic term) wishfully opined that the key to remaining relevant in the digital age (let’s say turn of the century) was in mastering social currency. Fearing obsolescence, big shot creative directors like myself and planners and other alleged ad-ninjas went to places like Hyper Island to learn the magic of these new tinier screens and the people who used them. Unfortunately, the bean counters beat us to the punch. Big data replaced the big idea and, well, here we are. There’s more to it than that but I don’t want to write about it any more than you want to read it.

When I unceremoniously exited the business, the writing was on the walls. It sure as hell wasn’t on the page. Copy had turned to content. Strategy became a numbers game. Art directors made shit fast… or else. The result: the aforementioned cliché ridden, data driven transactional crap – also known as content.

For years, I avoided talking this talk because I wanted to believe otherwise. And I was afraid of becoming unemployable. Happened anyway. Now I don’t care and neither does anyone else. I still enjoy writing for clients but for them a big idea is merely converting a strategy line into something they can use until the next quarter rolls around. I’m good at it. And I work fast and cheap. What we all appreciate is the lack of illusion about what we are doing.

Fact. Most clients think Cannes is a sexy place to go on vacation. Period. Where James Bond movies are filmed. Some may remember a celebration of creativity. Like holiday parties. Or bonuses. The mythical Gold Lion is now extinct. Mine are in a storage unit in San Rafael.

You know what? I don’t care anymore. Deep down I wonder if I ever did. I always knew I was getting paid a shit ton of money for doing something intuitive and fun. Once those two criteria were removed –as they have been- all that remained is all that’s left.

Once upon a time, poets were considered special. They had currency. Were celebrated, studied, emulated and revered. Then they faded into the middle pages of the New Yorker. Once upon a time, from 1965 until 2005, (a mere 40 years!), creativity actually mattered. It was like the poetry of yore. And then no one gave a shit about it either.

Not so gentle reader – Would you like me to squeeze the sour grapes further? Relish the whine of discontent? Let me know… I’m in a mood.

5 Responses to “The whine of sour grapes or telling my truth and not giving a damn!”

  1. Chris said

    Clearly the musings of someone who doesn’t give a damn and never did. LOL

    You didn’t keep up, Steffan. Your post is absurd in every way. You rested on your ancient Altoid’s work and kept talking about it and talking about it and talking about it. Think Jeff Goodby still talks about Got Milk on an almost daily basis? No. He moved on.

    Accept it. But don’t blame data and other shit . . . it’s so easy to see right through you.

    “became irrelevant around the time I did . . . ” now that’s comedy!

  2. Steffan1 said

    Among my many dubious virtues I’ve never been one to demure from a good trolling… Next post I shall provide you an answer 🙂

  3. lateshow16 said

    I feel like I could have written this myself. I was never at the level you were, but for years I was a Director of Content Marketing. I grew to hate it more with each and every year. Metrics and bullshit and the same template over and over again, guised as “marketing best practices.” Now I work for a digital marketing agency (to pay the bills) and I am miserable. Same shit, over and over again because apparently it “works.” It very rarely does. I never cared about metrics – I find them to be misleading. And I’ve always thought sentiment, brand awareness, and big ideas were underrated. I have to get out of this profession….before my anxiety and my anger take over. All I wanted was to write and sell creative, and develop relationships. None of that matters anymore. Big data, I’ll fight you until the cycle repeats and ideas are back on top.

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