Column: Branded

Okay, so the end of advertising is upon us (once again). Well, this time we've got 10 predictions for the end. The first one is easy. If advertising ends, the last adman standing will be Donny Deutsch. You've seen his show, "The Big Idea," on CNBC. It's successful. We watch it.
Donny represents the final straw of advertising. He is an adman who has transformed himself into an entertainer. He's not a Charlie Rose, Dick Cavett, or even a Barbara Walters. Donny's ammo doesn't puncture the heart like Charlie and Babs on a roll. Instead, he goes for bear with scattershot. Sometimes he hits, sometimes he misses. One night, Donny spoke with a man who spent about 25 years on death row for a murder he apparently didn't commit; DNA got him off the hook.

The man was building up to a key point, explaining the identity of the real killer, when Donny -- as is his style -- interrupted. "Okay, now, take me through what it was like on death row. The smells. The sounds," he said.

The exonerated man sputtered and tried to regain his train of thought, but enthusiastic Donny would not let him. The adman's hands were doing karate chops in the air as he insisted, "Okay, just take us through what it was like on death row. The smells...." It was as if Donny was trying to conjure a 30- or 60-second spot out of the guy. We love "The Big Idea," but we also wonder, What are the celebs thinking before they sink into Donny's leather couch for the first time: "Like, who is this guy anyway? An adman?"

>> Prediction No. 2: When advertising ends, so too will TiVo. There will be no spots to zap. We'll just zap programs, and for that we can use a $5 remote from Radio Shack, instead of a $100 black box.

>> Which leads to prediction No. 3: TV schedules will be filled almost exclusively with programs like "Meet Mr. Mom," "The Apprentice," and other programs that largely feature marketers who have bankrolled production. Many years ago, the writer Raymond Carver took the fine art of literature into uncharted territory by writing books about dull people and the cereal boxes that lined their shelves. His work was dubbed "suburban literature." Television is picking up where Carver left off. Programming is rapidly becoming all about the quotidian: selling lemonade, holding garage sales, and renovating bathrooms.

>> Prediction No. 4: If there's no more advertising, what will happen to that iconic Man in the Gray Flannel Suit? We predict that the Madison Avenue rank and file will end up reinventing themselves as insurance actuaries, Krispy Kreme franchisees, and creative-writing professors.

>> Prediction No. 5: The more adventurous advertising execs will get subsumed by the production and content behemoths who will be the victors in this epic battle for the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of consumers and brand marketers. Content will be king, so the creators of content will wield the most power and influence and cherry-pick people from the rotting corpses of Madison Avenue shops to form hybrid entertainment-marketing Goliaths.

>> Prediction No. 6: Reality-tv czar Mark Burnett will still be in business -- and will star as himself in the 20th season of "The Apprentice."

>> Prediction No. 7: Media agencies will survive as basically product-placement shops.

>> Prediction No. 8: Media fragmentation will intensify to the point where -- borrowing the infamous words of a former president of Bates Advertising (already defunct) -- media agencies will be "splitting the hair on the hair on the donkey's ass."

>> Prediction No. 9: The CPM model will be dropped for a new currency to determine branded entertainment deals. The new pricing model will be based on the Hollywood barter model, with the currency value based on who's got the best table at the Ivy and who can offer the richest swag from the Oscars.

>> Prediction No. 10: This column will be history.

Hank Kim and Richard Linnett are directors of MPG Entertainment. ( and

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