What happened to hard work and honesty?
I remember a time when there was honesty in advertising. Seriously!
I cut my teeth in the ad scene of the late 80’s and early 90’s. We had just gotten out of the “image-is-everything” phase of advertising – this was a time when many clients would plow buckets of cash into the pockets of commercial directors who shot expensive beer lifestyle images and cut them to Phil Collins soundtracks.
Eventually our industry grew up and we started creating ads built on consumer insights – messages that hit a chord with the consumers’ needs. Some agencies did a better job than others, like: BBH, Wieden Kennedy, Goodby Silverstein, Lowe, TBWA\, Leo Burnett, and others (the heyday of CP+B came a bit later). And more often than not, these insights created art.
These agencies woke up everyday, and worked
hard at making and selling the best work they could. They weren’t plotting against each other, even though their livelihood and people’s jobs were based on besting the competition.
They spent their time on making a better product. No one benefited from slander and dirty tricks – it was about the work.
So what happened?
Late last week, I clicked my mouse, Adweek popped open, and there on the screen was one of the ad industry’s sister companies, Burson-Marsteller. They,
along with Facebook, have launched a dishonest smear campaign* against what I consider one of the better if not best companies in the world, Google.
Google, for those of you who don’t know, has a corporate philosophy of “Do no evil.” I can’t imagine co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin sitting there with the Google team and thinking how do we f*** with Mark Zuckerberg? They are busy with “how can we improve the lives of our consumers?” Hey, let’s give them a phone that is as good if not better than iPhones (and I am a Steve Jobs fan)…Droid was born.
But those of you who have seen “The Social Network” can believe that Mark Zuckerberg and company are sitting around feeling insecure, still not making any real money for Facebook (unlike Larry and Sergey), plotting and attacking the competition. But they aren’t creating product or innovating, they are planting questionable stories in the media with PR firm Burson-Marsteller, about Google’s social circle.
Facebook executives need to forget about Google, and take their base of 600 million users and maybe one of the world’s best products and develop a strategy of innovation and revenue. Simple hard work.
I can accept that Google and Facebook are in a corporate war, much like Apple and Microsoft, but I cannot accept our industry playing such a dishonest game. I had worked with Burson-Marsteller in Europe when I was a CD at Y&R, and they were a well-respected PR firm. They were an honest and hard working group of very smart people. Oh yeah, back then they were still privately held. It was before WPP bought the Y&R Network, which Burson-Marsteller was a part of. But I guess over the years, and after several shareholder meetings, they took the philosophy from Gordon Gecko, Michael Douglas’ character in the original Wall Street: “Greed is Good”. Gecko went to jail, maybe that’s what needs to happen in our industry – people need to go to jail for bad work.
Our industry is tainted enough with a sea of late night infomercials that the consumer thinks defines our business: the 1-800- lawyers, the fat pills, the exercise programs, the so-called “pajama university” programs and the erase-your-debt-forever promises.
We do not need more greed and lazy smear campaigns – we need honest people who like to go to work and do an honest day of work.
*For the details please click on the links to Wired magazine and the Daily Beast, who broke the story.
The Daily Beast – Read the story at this LINK!
Wired magazine – Read the story at this LINK!