Sunday, January 29, 2012

On political "advertising"

Well, it's officially 2012, the year of the presidential campaign. My guess is that we'll all be sick of it by, oh, this time tomorrow.

And speaking for everybody everywhere, I'll go ahead and say that what we'll be sickest of is the advertising. Which brings me to my point today.

Not too long ago, some quarters in the Washington ad community got all worked up claiming that, if political agencies were included, this was one of the largest centers of advertising in the country. Like third or something, I think.

That annoyed the hell out of me. Unfortunately, this being an election year, it's probably going to come up again. And when it does, it's going to annoy the hell out of me then too.

The DC ad community shouldn't be embracing political agencies in order to pump up our perceived size. Rather, we ought to disassociate ourselves from them.


I mean, does any segment of the advertising industry do more to paint us all as congenital liars and sleazeballs that these guys? I don't think so.

Political advertising has become, for the most part, the reality of anybody's worst criticisms of our industry. While most of the rest of us are focused on presenting the best benefits of our clients' products or services, these jokers are focused on smears, fact manipulation and out-of-context garbage. I don't see how they do it. I mean, we expect that kind of B.S. from politicians, but I have always considered advertising people a higher life form that politicians of any party.

(A note here: I don't care which party you belong to, who you voted for last time or who you might vote for this go-around in a national, state or local election. If there is anything in this country that is truly bi-partisan, it's the shaky character of the vast majority of our politicians. And, unfortunately, this is nothing new. Ask Mark Twain.)

I don't mean to suggest that 100% of all political advertising is slimy and based on half-truths. Just 98% of it. And I hate to see the Washington ad community embrace it for the sake of inflating our own self image.

There are some damn good agencies around here. Design Army, Smith+ Gifford, Arnold, Adworks, August, Lang, LM&O and others. Thumb through an Addy showbook and see if you don't agree.

So I don't see any reason to associate our industry with those who tar the good name of advertising with everything they do.

I think the ad community ought to be judged on the quality of the work it does, not the number of firms engaged in it.

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