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March 14, 2013
In Advertising, You Don’t Need Money to be Part of the 1%
 
Do our professional beliefs reflect our audience or our biases?
 
A video was floating around recently that demonstrated the difference between our perception and reality of wealth distribution in America. The implication (as expressed in “us versus them” terms) is that the top 1% of wealth holders are out of touch, living in their own world, and insulated from the problems and realities the rest of the population face.
 
I don’t know what the Top 1% of wealth holders think. But money isn’t the only way to insulate yourself from other people’s realities. When you work in marketing in advertising, it gets pretty easy to stay in the bubble.
 
So what does the Advertising and Marketing 1% look like? Maybe you’re a part of it, maybe you’re not:
 
The 1% declares “real-time marketing” to be the latest fad, then says it’s “jumped the shark” the next day.
 
The 1% talks endlessly about the implications of a Burger King Twitter hack, but wouldn’t dream of ever eating there.
 
The 1% breathlessly waits to upgrade their iPads, iPhones, or TVs every year, whatever the cost.
 
The 1% stay tethered to screens 14–16 hours a day, marketing ourselves on social media in the name of “personal branding” just as much as we market our clients.

The 1% attend conferences featuring speakers who’ve written books about how our digital world is changing everything — hardback, printed-on-paper books. And handing out those hardback books allows these speakers to join the circle-jerk fraternity that promotes their other friends who’ve written similar books.
 
The 1% seeks out the newest farm-to-table restaurants and trendy bars. Because new is always better.
 
The 1% doesn’t realize that Walmart and Dollar Stores are popular because for many families, an extra $15 a week in food savings means the world.
 
The 1% calls campaigns rousing successes because they were talked about by marketing people, not acted upon by consumers.
 
The 1% believes any mistake a brand makes in social media is a disaster of epic proportions.
 
The 1% believes most Americans would rather stab themselves in the eye than drive from one suburb to another so they can visit a large shopping center, eat at Red Lobster, and watch the latest movie starring Channing Tatum.
 
The 1% believes people want to have ongoing conversations with every brand they interact with, from the alarm clock maker in the morning to the condom manufacturer at night.
 
The 1% steers clear of UFC fights, county fairs, public libraries, and the frozen entrée aisle in the supermarket.
 
The 1% says the completely overhauled brand advertising campaign launched six months ago is already old and needs to be scrapped.
 
The 1% believes no one listens to the radio or opens their junk mail anymore.
 
The 1% wants to position every product as having deeper meaning and higher purpose, when sometimes toothpaste and paper clips are just toothpaste and paper clips.
 
I suffer from this mentality as much as anyone. The more I read or watch about this business, the more my bubble feels suffocating. I filter marketing problems through my own experiences rather than research or empirical evidence. Hell, sometimes I just need to get out more. We all do. I think we could create more work that our audience can relate to. Or at least gain a better understanding what they're talking, and caring, about.
 
So I’ll admit that when it comes to living in an advertising and marketing-centric world, there are times I’m part of the 1%.
 
The trouble is, most days I don’t want to join the 99%. It might make me a more well-rounded advertising professional, but it sure looks less cool.

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Since 2002, Dan Goldgeier has been writing the most provocative advertising columns about advertising and marketing -- over 170 of them, covering every related topic you can think of. Now based in Seattle, Dan is a copywriter and ad school graduate who's worked at shops big and small. 


Visit his copywriting websitesee his LinkedIn profile or follow him on Twitter.

And please, buy his book for 99 cents.

 

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