Friday, July 04, 2008

"Use Your Baby Bonus to Buy a Plasma!"*

I guess it had to happen at some point.
I can almost see the entire picture now, sometime in the future, in a cluster of plastic chairs filled with sullen, shifty people in dark colours, there I am. The recovering advertisers support group. The first step is to acknowledge you have a problem.

But that's the future. Right now, what I have is a sneaky addiction to learning about advertising. Oh sure, I learnt semiotics theory in uni (and used it in part to do a Nietzschean analysis of Batman), I've written academic essays on the portrayal of motherhood, I've skimmed through copy-writing books and screen writing books and watched the odd documentary here and there about design or typography. We've all been there ... it's recreational use only.

To state the obvious - the signal to noise ratio in modern life (even in a total backwater like Trash City) is horrendous. Thank-you Brain for filtering so much of it out. In the last week or so I have asked for the filters to ease back a little to I can see it all again, and it is everywhere. Really all over the place. Walls, Streets, rooms, flashing , bleating, radio - I don't even need to mention the TV do I?! Why do this to myself? Well, The Client wants a lot more advertising than they did when I started. Before, they just wanted some promotion, some press releases, some web copy. Nice, low key pull-stuff. Now, now they want branding and positionals and targeted ads and direct mailers that aren't letters. Shit that I, frankly, just don't understand and have spent some effort to avoid up to now.
Ok so the library card is getting a flogging, and I am learning some things including jargon. I have no qualms about learning jargon - I use it on the client whenever I feel the bullshit quotient needs adjusting. Jargon often means I can do the common-sense thing that I suggested in the first place, but the cool/official sounding jargon for it makes it all sound very upmarket and professional. So instead of sending a group a personalised letter, we will send them "A direct mail "feel good" response initiator to a targeted demographic utilising below-the-line best-practise." I'm clearly making stuff up there, and I'm laying it on as an example. Those of you reading with any background in actual marketing will know how that barely even makes sense. But wow! Can you believe how clients lap it up!? So jargon is a great tool when used sparingly/ lathered around like jelly.
It is slow-going to pick up how to critically read these things from a capitalist/product point of view rather than from my existing (almost second nature) dissident political POV. Perhaps that is what is addictive - this feeling of "insider secrets revealed!" One of the first books I read was written in about 1910 (I'm falling in love with ebooks too - another thing I never thought would happen!) and it is pretty much all still there, and in his intro he was "capturing these time-proven methods" etc. Hi-Larious!
Will I use this power for the greater good? Or will I, like the fuckarsebaby boomers, just sell out and get loads of cash and drive a Kompressor? oooh, a Kompressor. So sleek, so powerful....
NO! I work for an art gallery goddammit! I will lull stupid bogans into bringing their snot-nosed brats in for edifying art encounters! YES! And if it takes shouting FREE! in all the material, well so be it. I'm not above a gratuitous sausage sizzle either. Don't start me. I've sunk so low now that an alley cat would avoid eye contact.

* Actual sign seen in local TV retailing store

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