Media X: I Thank, Therefore I Am
Let me explain. Too often, we take self-awareness for granted. Sure, we don't always use it wisely. Sometimes, we make awful decisions like, say, inviting the Governor of Alaska to stop by the turkey farm for a videotaped chat.
But mostly, the ability to think outside the instinct box allows us to have all these wonderful feelings that animals do not experience. (I assume that, anyway. I only have firsthand experience with cats, dogs and Nielsen executives.)
We get sad. We get happy. We get hopeful. We get depressed. But for me, the best feeling of all is vengeance. And this year, some of the people and things I hate most in the world got what was coming to them.
Obama wrenched the White House from the Oompa Loompas (can't wait to see the rims on the presidential motorcade). Detroit's three amigos were bitch-slapped by Congress for decades of deaf, dumb and blind marketing strategies. (I have a suggestion about where you can put all those unsold SUVs, gentlemen.) And the New York Giants dominated professional football. (Note to New England: suffer.)
But the flip side of vengeance is vindication. And that happened for me (albeit vicariously) last week, when Southern California's local ad association, the unfortunately named thinkLA, announced that its 2008 Leader of the Year was Zach Rosenberg, executive vice president and general manager of Horizon Media's Western Region.
It was across the street from Pink's Hot Dogs on La Brea, after all, that Western International Media, the first independent media-buying shop, was launched in 1970. But while this award, a very big deal in L.A., is given annually to "recognize creative thinking and innovation in marketing and media," media executives haven't exactly been trooping up to the dias.
It's been mostly creatives, with a smattering of account planners and general managers. (A predecessor group did bestow an award on Western founder Dennis Holt once. He is a pivotal figure in the history of the industry. But considering that Western was to the L.A. ad community what the Mukhabarat was to pre-invasion Iraq, the honor was more like tribute than a tribute, if you get my drift.)
Rosenberg began as an account guy at Chiat/Day, where he learned to feel superior. He moved to Western in 1995 to handle the Disney account, when to be in media meant to be lumpen. He took over Horizon eight years ago, and since then, the outpost (whose clients include NBC and Jack in the Box) has torn up the town, winning accounts and awards right and left. So he is as deserving as it gets.
But the award also signals, in the city that invented the American media agency, that the discipline has finally and fully come into its own. Because this isn't some half-assed Cannes "we'll make up a Lion for the other guys" bullshit. This is a media guy winning a creative award outright.
And high time, too.
So I'm celebrating vengeance and vindication this Thanksgiving, surrounded by friends, family, Jose Cuervo, DVDs from the Hustler store on Sunset, and some really sick indica from the clinic in Canoga Park.