Breaking Free of the Yoke of Media Manipulation
 
Here's a Pill for That . . .
 
"I have a surefire way for you to wrest yourself away from the beast that feeds on your very own habit for consumption."
 


I used to be an "Ad Biggie". That's what my peers and I sarcastically called ourselves in our inner circle of advertising account executives. What you currently now refer to as "Mad Men".

The thing is that I first worked in advertising on Lexington Avenue at J. Walter Thompson. Not Mad Ave. JWT was then the largest and oldest advertising agency in the world. It was headquartered in the Graybar Building in New York City, on Lexington Avenue, just north of 42nd Street. In the lobby you brushed shoulders with snooty Vogue Magazine girls, fashionably and indifferently marching off and out of your life toward the opposite elevator bank. The Graybar is right next to and joined with Grand Central Terminal. And, right across the street from that greatest of all skyscrapers, the Chrysler Building. Also across the street, the trusty Chock Full O'Nuts coffee shop. And, after a tough day in the trenches, an Irish bar for some beer and peanuts.

Then it was on to Ted Bates & Company, on Broadway, no less, a stone's throw from 42nd Street. That was during the Massage Parlor / Rap Parlor days, when seedy fellows pressed cards into the hands of passersby importuning, "Check it out!" And, finally, the last stop on my career path in that industry. Yes, I indeed eventually worked on Madison Avenue itself, at Doyle Dane Bernbach. The polished smooth, silver haired Bill Bernbach could often be seen on the floor, and Ned Doyle and Maxwell Dane kept offices in the building. Once we all gathered at a window to wave as Pope John Paul II motorcaded by on his way to visit St. Patrick's. He waved back!

I digress. When you work in an industry you fall under the spell of its self-created images, myths, and shibboleths. Put simply, when you're drinking the Kool-Aid it makes perfect sense. Until it doesn't.

It happened to me after too many years and at a significant turning point when I realized that I simply didn't want any more to be in the business of selling stuff and negotiating to keep the agency's creative vision from being eroded by clients' demands. ("I want that package FRONT LIT. No shadows.") Especially, I didn't want to promote the sale of stuff I didn't make, and probably wouldn't even if I could. You see, a professional marketer doesn't question the existential validity of the products and services he or she promotes. The simple fact that someone wants to spend some cash to move something off a shelf is the irreducible bottom line value. That's what is called "professional". In fairness, DDB at the time did not take cigarette brands as clients. Ethical stance? Maybe. Also, a likely gambit at goody-goody self promotion. I wasn't in on that meeting.

Without having much of a rational at the time, I just didn't want to do that any more. Out of that simple realization, six months later, I was out of there. 

Fast forward to the current time frame and I continue to be a student of the the advertising craft. But, who isn't, huh? Not that I'm an expert, but I was paid to be one once. It seems to me now with some distance and perspective a lot of what's going on is selling stuff that nobody needs, creating solutions to problems that nobody has, urging consumption to have more, better, or different; better, all three. Imagine where our so called consumer economy would be if we stopped making and selling all the frou-frou? It all goes on at such a pace and penetrates into just about every corner of our lives, such that we take it for granted. For example, is there any question that you need a smartphone, or that the next version of one with the ability to get and share stuff faster and easier is what you really want? Or, certainly should have? By the shear weight of the advertising on the tube you would think that prescription drugs are a normal and expected part of living.

I know this is a wramble, but that's what I do and what you get if you are reading this far. You won't be disappointed, though. Like I said, I have a surefire way for you to wrest yourself away from the beast that feeds on your very own habit for consumption.

Here's what you do: Next time you are watching television and a commercial comes on, or you see an advertisement in a magazine, imagine that message is preceded and followed by the following . . .

"Hey, Asshole! Look at this! Pay attention!"
 
Place Ad Here
 
"OK, Asshole? Now, Asshole, go out and get some of that."

I am particularly charmed by the advertising for pharmaceuticals. And how they disclaim the potential side effects. The commercials are visually always very sunny and reassuring. With a voiceover of a male or a female that conveys warmth, sincerity, integrity, and authority. Those potential side effects take up a lot of time in the advertisement and what is sometimes some rather shocking information. If you paused to consider, it would be a complete turn off. But, you are an good asshole, and you let it go on by as just some mandatory legal fluff, predictably and dutifully focusing on the wonderful benefits and imagery, just as you are trained to do. Even a damaging side effect like a 4 hour erection comes off as a benefit.

So next time you are watching a commercial or looking at a print ad, mentally insert the prescribed prefix and suffix lines. In short order you'll come to your own senses and realize you don't want to do that  that is, be a media slave  anymore. OK? Asshole?

"Hey, Asshole! Listen at this! Pay attention!"

Everything's Copacetik.

Lovely. Happy. The way you want it to be. The way it should be.

Taking this drug may induce projectile vomiting and hemorrhaging from any and all orifices of the body. Mind splitting massive migraine headaches have been known to occur. Your testicles could fall off. Breasts have shrivelled to resemble fried eggs for a small portion of females tested. "Dessicatus vaginitis" has been reported. Basic functional memory loss is not uncommon. Stroke and paralysis are sometimes possible. Going bat-shit crazy and running amok has occurred, but rarely. Agonizing deaths have also been known to occur. Unsightly worts are likely. Your nose could grow. There are other even more severe side effects, but the incidence is too low to legally require us to list them. 

So . . . Enjoy the Copacetik life.

Ask your doctor if Copacetik is right for you.
 
"OK, Asshole? Now, Asshole, go out and get some of that."
 
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Here's a little ditty put down for posterity a year before I became a Mad Man. Break on through . . .



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