I know you've done umpteen of these in your time, [but wondering] if you'd consider doing a year-ender on best or best worst ads of 2012. Up to you entirely.
Not a bad idea. It’s true I’ve been out of the ad-criticism game for a few years now, but those Top and Bottom 10 year-enders are irresistible, are they not?
Movies, songs, fashions, apps, political sound bites, new products, celebrity surgeries…they aren’t a staple of the holiday season for no reason. Not only do they serve a deep-seated human need to rate things by tens, but they fill a vacuum of actual news and commentary at the nadir of the annual news cycle.
Thank God for the fiscal cliff, or there would be nothing coming out of Washington at New Year but 1040 forms. I myself am looking forward to the Top 10 Election Campaign Lies list. I predict the GOP will win solid majorities in both houses.
But anyway, back to the assignment. It is intriguing. Once again, when I retired my AdReview column over at Ad Age three years back, I did so partly because I had become preoccupied with the destruction of the mass media/mass marketing universe that had advertising at its center. I questioned the ongoing irrelevance of the 30-second spot amid the chaos that was enabling ad avoidance, fragmenting audience, decimating reach and causing purchasing decisions to be influenced not by product messages but conversation among consumers themselves.
It struck me as a bit hypocritical to earn my livelihood deconstructing ads while simultaneously opining on the devolution of the ad economy.
On the other hand, I do love ads. Not just for the 25 years I wrote criticism about them, but for my whole life I have marveled at the ingenuity of the ingenious ones and at the bankruptcy of the stupid ones. I have consumed them in awe of the underlying creative and strategic virtuosity, and I have consumed them in disgust at their masturbatory excess.
In short, I have kept ongoing Top and Bottom lists for as far back as I remember. It’s a pretty good parlor game and a fantastic way to make a living. There is many a talented amateur out there, but few succeed professionally in the highly competitive finding-fault-with-others industry.
So really, Joe, your suggestion is most compelling. Sure, I retired from the ring, but wouldn’t it be exciting to lace up those gloves one more time -- to dance a little near the apron, then charge to center of the ring to give some palooka a pounding? Oh, my goodness. I can hear the thwap of leather upon cheekbone. I can smell the blood trickling from a lacerated brow. And, yes, when the game contender lands a crisp blow, I feel the sting -- but that sting is really admiration.
Yes, I want to do this. I want to make a comeback. I want to relive the thrill of being the year-end arbiter of the best and worst ads of 2012. Only one problem: I haven’t seen any. Has anyone?
All glad tidings of the season,