Commentary

Media X: Eat or Be Eaten

Last night my cat and a moth went claw to mandible, and it wasn't even close.

The moth kicked her ass.

I mean, cats are biological hunting/killing machines so perfect that nature hasn't changed them in 30 million years -- and yet the damn animal couldn't even take down a droopy-winged, slow-flying snack.

The moth flew rings around my pet's tail, zoomed through her whiskers, did a barrel roll under her legs and finally landed on her nose, staring at her with contemptuous bug eyes. The turgid tabby finally took a swipe at her tormentor, which easily avoided the blow, dipped its wings in triumph and took off -- immediately smashed head first into a window.

As for my useless supposed-to-be predator? She stole credit for the kill. Hissed at the brownish mound of moth pulp dripping down onto the window sill, stuck her tail in the air and strutted off to go chew on the couch.

In this Darwinian metaphor, which one are you, my chubby little communications colleagues: an over-confident candidate for window kill or a self-deluded pussy?

Because in this fucked up marketing ecosystem, you're one or the other. And everybody dies.

The traditional communicators don't really get digital. Sure, they try to catch what's buzzing between their legs. Reinvent themselves over and over like the restaurant on the corner that keeps changing cuisines. Never works.

Ever hear a regular agency guy try to talk digital? It's like trying to communicate your lunch order to the just-jumped-the-fence fellow behind the counter at Subway. The digidouches are forever "optimizing" and "utilizing." and they're reinventing words that worked just fine before, like "platform" and "space" and "search" and "click" and "interact" and "engage" and even "measure." And then they re-animate words that really ought to stay dead, like "disintermediation." And of course, "use." There's a word I don't use, like digital marketers use the word, if you get my drift. Whenever I hear a creative director try to do this, I cringe. It's like watching my cat try to kill a moth.

Speaking of insects, let's move on to online media buyers, sellers and digital media commentators. They're all fat and happy, thinking the future is a giant, infinite closet containing an endless supply of delicious fabric.

Digital agencies get the glory, the money, the girls, the business and the media attention. They're flying around dipping their wings like they just dropped Fat Boy on the 4As Media and Management Conference and turned every ad and media agency head to glowing green dust.

Sooner or later, though, they'll get theirs. Because they know the tech but they don't understand the art. They also talk a good game. But there's one word they think they've co-opted, which they will soon discover is the technological equivalent of a window.

That word is "content."

The digital communicators don't really get content. They act like it's a commodity. It isn't. It's the heart and soul of communication. Without that understanding, it doesn't matter how high you fly or how many cats you torment.

Pretty soon, I predict you're going to see a veritable avalanche of digipulp sliding down onto the marketing windowsill. But you'll have to enjoy the show without me.

I have to clean the window and go buy a new couch.

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