Wednesday, July 13, 2011

9003: Webber On Glover On Madison Avenue.

At The Big Tent, Pepper Miller reviewed Mad Man by Jim Glover—which inspired the following commentary from Harry Webber.

What is an Advertising Man?

What does it take to fill 30 seconds with a message no one will forget? Is there a special skill required? Must one undergo years and years of arduous, specialized training to practice such a well-paying skill, or is it a matter of luck? Madison Avenue Gods like Ed McCabe were high school dropouts, and you can count the number of Rhodes Scholars in any One Show book on one hand.

Advertising isn’t something you learn. Advertising is something you are. A unique combination of life experiences and memories blended with random knowledge and theatrical flair. That’s what it takes to make the kind of advertising that fills container fleets and rolls train trucks day and night. Right now, an Ad Woman is wracking her fertile brain to get over your issues of electric cars leaving you stranded in Watts, or the South Bronx or Side or Bay or Philly. If that Ad Lady cracks that code, factories will thunder into overtime. Supply chains will energize overnight. That is how important the practice of Advertising is to our economy.

Jim Glover woke up one morning and decided exactly how to put McDonald’s in the breakfast business. Billions of Egg McMuffins later, Jim has enough time on his hands to write a book. How is that possible? Why doesn’t some Quick Service Goliath have 300 people executing Jim Glover’s vision for their restaurants? How could he have five minutes to think about something as trivial as skin pigmentation, let alone sit down and write a whole damn book about it?

Doesn’t anybody else see the tragedy of such a turn of events? The highest levels of McDonald’s wanted Jim Glover to run their business. The agency, not so much.

Jim Glover is an Ad Man. He is not a novelist. But because he is an Ad Man, he needed a product to sell. So he wrote one. And now Jim Glover’s wide circle of friends are coming out, one by one, to support his brand.

The success of this book will be a detriment to the Advertising Industry on two levels. First and foremost, “Mad Man” will expose to a wider audience Madison Avenue’s Dirty Little Secret. That can’t be good. The rapid rise of Cause-Related Marketing is a strong indication that the fortunes of global brands relies on what they do (or don’t do), as well as what they claim. Second, popularity will mean profit for Jim Glover, and his brand will be compelled to write another book, or a movie. Or something else that takes him farther and farther away from being an Ad Man.

What is an Advertising Man? An extremely rare and endangered species. And each one that leaves lessens the sustainability of the business model in these competitive times. Yet, we make hiring decisions based upon “Compatibility” and “Chemistry.” There will be no Michael Jacksons in Advertising. There will be no Michael Jordans on Madison Avenue. There will only be Vanilla Ice.


Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, Pepper needs to get off the bigtent and rally the troops and go protest at these GM agencies. Nobody cares about the bigtent. If you want to get your voice heard, go to the offices of the very same people that discriminate against you. Stop taking scholarships,bootcamps,and organizing diversity award shows. Boycott the 4a's nancy hill.

The problem is black folks are not organized. They are not united. They are also too scared to challenge the status quo. Try getting all the black creatives to actually do something is not a option. What has jimmy smith, fey tarty, van graves, jenyatta jenkins,tiffany warren etc done about this. Absolutely nothing!

The only change can come from the people that actually do the discriminating. White People control the advertising industry. Sure theyll shell out a token scholarship ala Jeff Goodby, but they will not hire black creatives.
So ranting on the bigtent makes no sense, if your mad write letters to jeff goodby as to why theirs not 1 black creative in his SF office.

Lowell said...

James Glover wrote a book about a mad "black" adman and he didn't tell me...or invite me to any of his book signings?

Books about "black" mad men will not change advertising or America. But "Black" folks finally respecting each other might.

Lowell Thompson

BTW: At least JR thought I should know. Thanks.

Lowell said...

BTW: But just to show folks there's no hard feelings, I just posted and rated the Glove's cover on my Buy The Cover blog.

BTWA: Harry Webber, where are you?