September 02, 2014

Throwing Cold Water On The Ice Bucket

One of the dependable characteristics of dumb guys is the attribution of far-reaching meaning to random occurrences.

In the past, people thought lightning was an expression of godly anger. Comets and meteors were thought to augur the end of the world.

You can always tell who the half-bright marketing promoters are because they, too, attribute deep meaning to every random marketing phenomenon.

As soon as something comes out of nowhere to be a marketing success, they get busy developing a big dumb interpretation of it and drawing specious conclusions. They produce long-winded essays and blog posts about the lessons we fools should learn from the miracle.

Perhaps you remember "The Blair Witch Project." It was a movie that out-of-the-blue became a huge success driven by a small online advertising campaign. All the half-wit marketing gurus saw this as a seismic shift in movie marketing that would forever end the practice of spending large sums on traditional advertising by movie studios.

Of course, it did no such thing and studios are spending more than ever to market their films.

Then there was Zappos. Its unlikely success was interpreted as a signal of the beginning of a new age in which enormous business goals would be achieved with just a little clever Twitterage. Once again, Zappos turned out to be an anomaly that no one has been able to duplicate.

Then there was the Arab Spring in which communications experts explained to us how social media had become the indomitable force for political change that was going to bring freedom, democracy, and kale smoothies to the Middle East. Yeah, any day now.

And now we have the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Every dim bulb is drawing grand conclusions from this one-off. I guarantee you there are about a thousand Powerpoint presentations currently in the works explaining the "Five Critical Lessons" we should be learning from it.

In fact, there is only one lesson to be learned from the Ice Bucket Challenge: sometimes silly shit catches on.

August 26, 2014

The Day The Conversation Died

I'm sorry to be the one who brings you the bad news, but I'm afraid I have to.

Social media -- the thing that killed everything -- is now itself officially dead.

That's right, according to a piece written by someone who modestly calls himself “The Millennial Marketing Guy” Social Media Marketing is Dead.

It died peacefully at home, after a long battle with nitwits. It is survived by its twin brother, Content.

As regular readers know, we here at The Ad Contrarian have spent a good deal of time on death watch -- helping you understand how Social Media killed everything that came before it: advertising, broadcasting, marketing, copywriting, television, and more.

And just when we thought the period of grieving was over, it is with a heavy heart that we have to report that Content has killed the thing that killed everything else.

By the way, if you are committed to non-violence I strongly suggest you don't read the article in question. It is likely to have the same effect on you that it had on me. I am currently in restraints in the back of a patrol car.

I'll give you just a little taste of the wisdom from this enlightening lump of literature. Here we go...
"What drives social media activation for Millennials; however, is content excellence."
What drives people to put semi-colons in the middle of sentences; however, is illiteracy.
"We are currently living in a 'Millennial-inspired Participation Economy' "
Not me. I'm living in a Vodka-inspired stupor.
"Which is most powerful: a like, share, retweet, favorite?" 
Gosh, they're all so powerful it's like asking who's stronger Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk or Captain America. Let's get real -- they ALL have super powers!
"Think of content as an opportunity for your brand voice living everywhere you are not."
Cool. I'm thinking of my brand voice living in Vegas in one of those townhouses where all the super-hot strippers live. Either there or in Tyler's mom's basement where the "Millennial-inspired Participation Economy" is headquartered.
"Uniqueness will be a proxy for brand pricing authority and meaningfulness will be a proxy for sales volume potential."
And typing will be a proxy for writing, and insufferable bullshit will be a proxy for thinking.

August 25, 2014

It's That Awful Time Again

As regular readers know, every 90 days or so you have to pay the price for all this fine crankiness by sitting through some obnoxious self-promotion. Here at The Ketel One Conference Center overlooking the beautiful Ad Contrarian Worldwide Campus, we think it's a small price to pay.

Here's some news:
  • I have completed an almost-final draft of my next book. It's called "Advertising Needs Troublemakers" and it should be available by mid-to-late October at Amazon. Save your nickels. 
    By the way, "101 Contrarian Ideas..." is still Amazon's #1 selling ad book after a year and a half (not that I'm the kind of person who would brag about such things...) If you haven't read it, and you are not happy or successful or sexually fulfilled, don't blame me.
  • Since I gave a talk in London (video here) earlier this year at Advertising Week Europe, I'm suddenly totally popular and getting lots of hot dates. I think my hair is even growing back.
    I'm represented by Keynote Speakers and I have a page here about speaking. For info on having me speak at an event, conference, meeting, or long liquid lunch, please click here or contact Keynote at  
  • Type A Group (my consulting company) works with agencies, clients, and media. If your team is confused, struggling with strategy, needs clarified thinking, or is talking in tongues, we can probably help quickly and reasonably. We have dates available in October and January. For more info, click here right now. By the way, if you're not the boss and your company needs help, feel free to slide this under the boss's door. Yes, that's right, the whole damn computer.
  • Is it possible that we Ad Contras have been right all these years? Avinash Kaushik, self-described "Digital Marketing Evangelist" and all-around smart guy, wrote a post last week about the power of traditional advertising (specifically TV.) I suggest you read it -- particularly if you are an online ad person. It's reassuring to know that there are still some people for whom facts are more important than ideology.