The Emperor Has No Clothes, But We Have Our 'Skins'
It was my intention today to provide a rationale for the "convergence" (there's that word again) of the key elements of direct-to-consumer marketing with today's fully functional, data-driven digital platforms. That was my intention.
For years we've seen the larger marketing community become aware of, and then enamored with, the notions of precision targeting, relevant messaging, offers (Groupon anyone?), measurement, and ROI accountability. Or, as we used to call it, direct marketing.
So it was my intention today to describe those elements, what we refer to as the variables of response, in some detail, and relate them to the level of instantaneous executional capability and wider applicability that we see in today's marketing platforms and marketing mix.
But I'm not going to do that.
Instead, consistent with my belief that we toil happily in the MediaTech business, where devices are key, but content is king, I happened to run into some content that gives even a fully clothed emperor a bad name.
"Skins" is a show, you'll pardon the expression, that one local newspaper says, provides "racy storylines" and "exposes the truth about teens." The Truth.
Hold that thought.
With origins in the U.K., now here on MTV, the show portrays heavy drinking, lots of (underage) sex, and drug use among teens, with the clear inference that this is the norm ("the truth"). It has recently come under scrutiny since child pornography laws may have been broken, according to at least one Parents group, the Parents Television Council. And that in turn got the attention of several major advertisers who have pulled their advertising from the show.
By the way, my favorite headline in this train wreck of a story is "MTV may be in hot water for alleged child pornography." Hot water. My sense is that the big picture may be missing in some of these reportorial observations.
But let's be fair. The show's creators have responded to the criticism with a strong statement that "'Skins' will continue to connect with the audience it was created for." I'm wondering just who is that audience? For whom exactly do you create a show portraying and glamorizing an illegal and amoral lifestyle among the underage set?
Personally I've seen the show, I've been to the website where one can delve deeper into the "story lines" (once again, you'll pardon the expression). And I find them both banal, poorly written, real least-common-denominator stuff. On that basis I can dismiss it.
But with all the talk about the technology of today's TV, are we losing the central point: that it continues to have the power to persuade, to provide acceptance?
Where is the responsibility to our kids, and to ourselves, to be better than this?
Over the years, as media has become fragmented, so has it too often become sensationalized -- and therefore marginalized -- as content. Desperate to attract an audience, TV has been dumbed down under the guise of "this is reality" or some other made-up, look-at-me attempt at ratings. One can say that it's wrong, but it's also sad. With "Skins," we see a part of this community of creative talent reduced to talking down to our youth in order to be noticed.
TV can be uplifting, inspiring, informative, entertaining. When we see it at its best, why do we tolerate the worst of it, especially when its persuasive power is aimed at our kids?