Media X: Stupid Does
Gas is now over $4 a gallon -- and rising like a rocket. The experts say we'll hit $7 a gallon by this time next year. So it doesn't matter how many rugrats you have or how much room you need for your skis, your ultra-marathon gear or your golf clubs. The smart money is going old school and buying small, or even better, merging old and new and going hybrid.
Buying a gas-guzzling, pornographically priced monstrosity in this environment is dumb enough. But that fool in the next lane didn't just buy an SUV. He/she/it bought a domestic SUV.
A used domestic SUV.
That is beyond dumb. That is Bush Administration dumb. And, as always, a too-close-for-comfort analogy for what is happening in the marketplace, because dumb thinking is also driving the media business into a ditch.
The SUV in the analogy, of course, is digital technology. Bring up the subject of emerging media, and you all start panting like Paris in a chihuahua kennel. You've handed your agencies' steering wheels to a whole new generation of tech "evangelists," 2.0 versions of the dotcom dipsticks that turned your media plans into smoking ruins a decade ago.
Now, you're repeating the same dumb mistakes. And in this rush to digital judgment, a lot of what was good about the old media world is being discarded like a fin de siècle tail fin. Oh, you talk a good deal. If the marketplace were a Car Max, there'd be swarms of media and creative executives and clients pushing through the door every weekend, declaring that they're looking for a hybrid. But once inside, every one of them buys an SUV.
That, my little hatchlings, is not smart.
There's a reason why custom magazines -- that would be a media channel made out of paper -- are gaining traction. There's a reason why a good read remains more memorable than a good site. There's a really good reason why outdoor still thrives, and I don't mean the digital boards. There's a really, really good reason why it's more important to press for addressability than it is to transform your shop into a "digitally centered" enterprise, whatever that means. And those doomed 30-second broadcast TV spots still seem devilishly effective.
But you're the experts. Your knowledge and insight are superior. You Twitter.
And still, even with all that insight and knowledge, you don't get smart. We need more mash-ups of old and new media in every plan. We need creative executions that make old media do new tricks. Don't just be media neutral; be technology neutral.
Don't just discard the old. Pick what's best and leave the rest -- or you may get stuck with a big, ugly, gas-sucking, battleship gray lemon.
And that's just dumb.