Commentary

Media X: Cruel To Be Kind

At the 11th hour of this short-lived but proudly caustic column, I can finally say that American marketing doesn't suck with a straight face.

Maybe it's because I had one of those years where success is measured by whether the bruises from the last beating faded before the next one began. Perhaps it's because what we voted for in 2008 was unwarranted hope, superficial change and the growing realization that all the political digital media genius may just have been dumb luck. Maybe it was because Mad Men was renewed, Lady Gaga's 15 minutes have begun or David Carradine was found hanged and naked in a Bangkok closet with fishnet stockings, red lingerie and a rope around his balls.

Whatever. Compared to all of those odious outcomes, communications had a pretty fine 12 months.

I love what Mediabrands has done. Its relentless focus on leading by innovation earns it Media magazine's Agency of the Year honors for 2009. GroupM continues to school the rest of us on how to evolve gracefully and effectively to meet the demands of a new era. And what can you say about Publicis Media Group's ability to lead that hasn't already been said?

Then there is Sir Martin Sorrell, easy to parody but easily the most under-appreciated marketing intellect in the business. Did you see his speech at ad:tech this month where he flat-schooled attendees on what to expect in the near future? Just like he did when he predicted unbundling in 1982.

I've already written approvingly about how the industry is getting up off its stupefied ass and doing something about digital media instead of howling about how nothing makes sense anymore. More wonderfully, nobody talks about digitards like they're demigods anymore -- except digitards.

At the 4As, CEO Nancy Hill is dragging advertising's ancien regime into the 21st century faster and more effectively than I thought possible. And did you see this month where Marc Goldstein and his Media Policy Committee got into Nielsen's smug-ass face about local TV ratings? Damn, but that was satisfying.

In fact, smart thinking about the business now regularly comes out of the organization, probably for the first time since it was founded in the 16th century (give or take). Also noteworthy is the merger of the 4As Management and Media Conferences, While no doubt motivated by recessionary economics, it's the right thing to do in a marketplace that has been flattened like a pancake, and in which integrated marketing is a survival mechanism rather than an attention-getting gimmick.

As for Advertising Week? This thing was a pathetic joke when it started. Now, it's a must-attend. I've even mellowed a bit about that ridiculous fucking icon contest.

So there was genuine hope in 2009 after all. Just not where we thought we'd find it. How big do the industry's problems have to get before the industry stops being bad? This big.

And that is really, really good.

As for me, this is the "Media X" swan song, but I'll still crop up on MediaPost from time to time.

Right now, though, a premium tequila and a curvaceous media rep are waiting for me at the Arsenal on Pico Boulevard. So vaya con dios, kids.

4 comments about "Media X: Cruel To Be Kind".
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  1. Robert Rosenthal from Rosenthal Heavy Industries, November 25, 2009 at 10:01 a.m.

    Hate to see you go, Jack. Enjoyed your work. RR

  2. Joan Voight from Business media, November 25, 2009 at 2:32 p.m.

    It's a big world out there, Jack. I bet we will be hearing your voice somewhere else. Thanks to the 'digitards," you never have to be silent. We'll be looking for you...

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 26, 2009 at 4:33 p.m.

    NO !!!!!!!!!!! JACK !!!!!!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Larry Collins from LGC Media, November 27, 2009 at 7:13 p.m.

    Say it ain't so, Jack!

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