Advertising, Or Why Ogilvy Was Right About The Pianist In A Whorehouse


Marketing spoils advertising. In fact, marketing spoils everything. Marketing is the reason your newspaper is thicker in size and thinner in its concentration on actual news. Marketing is the reason you frequently change radio channels after every other song, just to avoid another annoying jingle. Marketing is the reason women need to take off their clothes, and men need to get on steroids. Marketing is the reason the streets are littered with hoardings blocking the sky, and marketing is the reason every social media platform today is a minefield of unwanted bot messages, targeted to you in person, without your permission. And that’s not just brand marketing, it’s politics too. It’s why people start TV channels, why they are still printing glossy magazines and why YouTube is the worst place for a content creator to be today. Because marketing is a cancer that spreads with no regard for freedom or the concept of decency. Aggressively too. Marketing is why people are demographics, and sentiments are mapped. Marketing is the honey trap, and you are the fly.

Don’t believe me? Fine. Look around you, turn on any channel on TV, go watch any video on YouTube, flip through any magazine. It’s everywhere. It’s inescapable. And that’s by design. Look at what they are selling, how they are selling it, who they use it to sell it, and what language are they using. It’s all calculated. It’s all data, which could had been used to change things, but is instead used to keep things the same. Parity, is what they want. That is why all your celebrities are from marketing heavy verticals – Movies, TV, cricket. It’s either a mummified Bachchan still clawing his way to sell you anything between cement to white goods, or an up & coming cricketer or some such. The ones who take a different route, is because that is also strategy. This is the reason there are terms like TRP, footfalls, view counts etc. These are quantifying metrics developed to breed mediocrity. The absurd rise of ‘planners’ is a testimony to that.

Many big agencies, both advertising and PR, have used this tool under the guise of research. They have used data points, fake vox pop, staged consumer feedback to sell their utterly mediocre ideas. And the marketing manager has bought it. Because why innovate, when you can potate? Why let the creative sell creatively, when the planner can plan it for you. Why go to the corners of an idea when everyone feels safe in the middle. Why worry about morality, ethics, values, passion when you have excel sheets to circle jerk off to? That is the reason marketing is the worst thing ever, especially in India. It’s the antithesis of everything good. It’s the reason politically correct exists, because the channels want those marketing dollars to run themselves, and those marketing dollars insist on pleasing everyone, there by pleasing none. It’s the reason risque is bad, vanilla is good. New is scary, so why go there. Just keep using the washed up, the trending, the morally corrupt, until the research numbers show otherwise, and then drop them like the steaming bag of you know what they are, and move on to the next teet. Sex sells is a marketing line. Conditions apply is a marketing line. Targeted marketing, social profiling, behaviour targeting are all marketing lines. And if you don’t understand why those are horrifying, you have never worked in and around marketing. National pride is a marketing gimmick, politics is too. So is social trending, influencer marketing, and rural optimisation. It’s the opposite of good, it’s the opposite of decent and it bothers me. It bothers me because today Penguin wont let young writers put their narrative in their language, it wont let artists express out of the lines of what they consider marketable, and that is the reason they will censor your movies, your songs, your content. Bcoz marketing has no balls, just like it has no spine, or shame. Marketers will use, manipulate, milk any issue if they could get away with it. That is why everyone of them panicked at the rise of social media, but they have that under control now too. Facebooks, Youtubes, Twitters of the world could give less of an eff about you or your freedom of speech if it meant they were losing on their advertisers.

The problem is that wherever there are people, the salesmen will reach. And turn it into a market. Amazon is literally placing its bots in your home with alexa. There is no hiding, there is no running away. And I’ve been a part of this rut for almost sixteen years now. The rush is insane, the power you weild is palpable, and it’s very easy to forget morality when dealing with demographics & Target Audiences, that at the end of the day, what one is doing is mass manipulation on a daily, hourly basis. It took me a while to course correct and want to steer my ship towards pure creative. And thus it’s astonishing to me that David Ogilvy, saw this coming so long back when he said ‘Dont tell my mother i work in Advertising, the poor woman thinks i am a pianist at a whorehouse’. Marketing can really be that disgusting a place.
Advertising is dead. Long live advertising.

Guest Editor: Mr. Abhishake Das – Founder, Creative Director – Orwellian Dreams


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