When I graduated from college, a friend of my Dad asked him what I planned to do. “Dennis is going into advertising.” At this, his friend fell silent so my Dad asked what he was thinking. He said “Well Bernie, he went to a good school, got good grades, his older brother is a Navy pilot…aren’t you a little disappointed he’s choosing…advertising?” My Dad replied “Fran, what are you saying? We’re lawyers!”
My Dad told that story for years, collapsing into gales of laughter every time he hit the punchline. And it always played because advertising has long had an image problem. At its worst, ours is a business of conmen and hucksters, spittle-lipped sharpsters in sharkskin suits selling false promises and impossible dreams.
But at it’s best, advertising fuels the mighty American engine of commerce, stoking the sales that drive our economy, and every now and then, our culture as well, like the concept of the designated driver.
The value of advertising, like any human endeavor, lies in the values you choose. The graphic above represents two options: the outspoken “Brand Guru” Peter Arnell ( the one on the left ) and charming and successful CEO/CCO Linda Kaplan-Thaler ( the one on the right ). The linked interviews with each of them represent two distinct industry views and one stark comparison.
Give them a quick once over then ask yourself: which do you choose?