Back in the days of the “Madmen” era, a very sane Brit named David Ogilvy set up a Madison Avenue advertising agency. His original working capital was $6,000, the now-deceased Ogilvy recalled in his book, “Confessions of an Advertising Man.”
For at least for the first 35 years or so, his agency was dedicated to – and actually hewed to – values never before or since seen or heard from on Madison Avenue. Complete civility. Genuine care for the welfare of its employees as well as its clients. Literate advertising. And respect for consumers. “The consumer is not a moron,” Ogilvy thundered at his colleagues and anyone else who would listen. “She is your wife.”
Today's greedy vermin
These days? Forget it. The industry is infested with a new kind of greedy vermin, intent not only in getting as wealthy as a hedge fund manager masturbating with an image of Croesus in his head, but also in ignoring U.S. government agency rules and regulations, and roaring full speed ahead toward an anarchy it thinks it can dominate.
Case in point, a recent headline from the industry leading American trade publication, Advertising Age, having to do with a Federal Trade Commission proposal that private industry should not track what people look at, or where they go, or whom they call, or what they look up on the Internet – unless they agree to this invasion of their privacy.
Here’s the headline:
“Ad Industry Proposal:’Do Not Track Should Let Us Track Anyway.”
Or to put it in the vernacular of the common man whose private business the advertising industry wants to snoop on, “Screw your proposal and your laws and your government. We’ll do what we want.”
I commend you to the industry’s explanation here, filled with verbosity, techno-jargon and self-serving reasoning – perhaps made deliberately dull so you’ll nod off in a stupor instead of exploding with rage.
Remember, these folks are from an industry that’s all about – or at least used to be all about – “communicating” with you, me, and other consumers. If what they write puts you to sleep, it’s because they don’t want you to wake up before they’ve rolled over your privacy and plopped every last mosel of information about you into their databases, ranging from what you read and watch on TV, to where you ate lunch yesterday, probably all the way to when you last picked your nose and which finger you used.
They can afford to be such bastards because advertising agency management has grown – from a few clever people at each of many dozens of agencies, each with a few grand in their pockets and the intention to delight and inform consumers, to a bare handful of conglomerates with more than a few billion bucks in their own jeans, intent on grabbing more and more money.
Latest case in point, the merger of Omnicom, one advertising mega-conglomerate, with Publicis, another advertising mega-conglomerate. They are now a combined $35 billion mega-mega-supermega-conglomerate with which no startup Brit with six thousand bucks in his wallet could ever compete.
And the industry as a whole is so big that if they don’t like what the government is doing, they simply tell the government to screw off. And if that doesn’t work, they’ll buy every Congressman and Senator in Washington and come after those who protest with a tank division.
Because if “Do not track,” can mean “track,” then “do not bribe” can mean “bribe” and “Thou shalt not kill” simply means, “Slaughter them, they’re only citizens.”