Napoleon once said "no man is a hero to his valet". And he should know, because it was his valet who sold his penis to a museum after he died.
To put it another way, “Familiarity”, as someone else once said rather pithily, “breeds contempt,” and nowhere are these sentiments more apparent than in adland relationships.
Year after year the bias of these relationships has swung from the agency to the client, gone are the days when clients would ply us with drinks and beg us to make their Brands famous, now it’s our knees in the dust scratching at percentages. And truthfully it’s our own fault. Too many agencies have effectively sold out, and cheaply at that, too often we say “maybe”, or “of course we can”, when we should be saying “no”, or at least “why?”
We used to have faith in our own abilities, but we gave it away for focus groups, brainstorms and the belief that an idea had en masse was somehow stronger than something that flowed from the brains of a couple of guys who spent too much time in the pub or from an inspired corridor chat. We lost the spine-tingling, head turning magic we were creating, forgetting it was the only true currency no red-blooded client could pass by.
There’s no wonder we lost their respect and no wonder that ultimately it’s lead to clients believing they can do our jobs better than us.
Take the inimitable, and now according to the Christian lobby, festering in hell, Mr. Lolly Jackson owner and purveyor of the rumpy-pumpy, flesh-pots of Rivonia and other local suburbs. His latest poster on Rivonia Road stars a young buxom lass grabbing her assets and smiling winsomely into camera, a headline covers a few parts of her shiny body and reads, “No need for gender testing.”
The ad has caused a minor storm in the media because of the heavy-handed allusion to the Semenya affair, something that the usually candid client denied vehemently. In a quote which made my post-binge bleary art director spit out her coffee tequila, he claimed, “the ad is self-explanatory” and, “I do not want anyone coming here with the idea that we don’t have women, we have 100% women here, I did a test on them, I’m a professional and they are 100% wo-men.” This, you see, is what happens when we let clients write their own stuff.
More examples of the rot in adland were on show at The Loeries in Cape Town last year, but there was also some pretty good stuff, some pretty pictures and lots of pretty crap stuff dressed up as advertising. In other words it was a typical year. With no elegant Allen Gray commercial to light up the juries TV was a tad bland, but there was some cool illustration in the magazine stuff.
Mr Lolly Jackson’s titillating poster probably will never be attractive to birds especially of the Loerie variety, but at least it was topical, but it was also crap, unlike the rather good, if locally biased, poster for the anti-gun initiative, from an original concept by one, Richard van Zyl.
Taking our Presidents favourite fireside sing-along tune and changing the words ever so slightly he produced a powerful poster for the anti-gun lobby reading “Awu Leth’ Umishini Wakho” it further encourages the people to “Nikela isibhamu sakho esingekho emthethweni ku polisteshi eseduze nawe.” A case for once of familiarity breeding content, maybe.