Ads are like a cultural ‘tell’. Seen as a whole, Betty Crocker ads from the early 60’s tell us a lot more than just that the Betty Crocker company made cake mix. They tell us about who the Betty Crocker Company understood it was selling its products to — The American Housewife. They knew what she liked and what she didn’t. They knew where her deepest insecurities lay (because they’d helped put them there) and, equally, where she felt like the Absolute Queen of her Domain (because they’d pretty much built THAT themselves out of whole cloth).
Advertising People are just a slicker projection of door-to-door salesmen. The first trick is ‘Getting In The Door’.
The difference between Making A Sale and Not Making A Sale can be as simple as dropping the wrong word at the wrong time. You have to be able to read the room the instant you walk into it. The odds are worse than a hitter’s in baseball. Guy hitting 300? He’s a genius — and that’s a guy who GETS OUT 70% OF THE TIME.
Sales are even harder. The margins can be brutal. So any advantage you can gain — from having any nugget of insight into your intended buyer is something you want. And the bigger you are, the bigger your product, the more insight you need…
But here’s the thing about Ad Men — and their clients, the people who need the advertiser to hawk their wares — they’re really, really, REALLY conservative. They’re almost always the LAST to see or react to ANYTHING cultural. So — when THESE PEOPLE see a ‘trend’ happening — and feel compelled to react to that trend, that trend must mean something highly significant to their bottom line.
Cos that’s what motivates them more than anything. And what America’s Advertisers are telling us — by their actions — is where they see their bottom line a few years from now (or where they HOPE it will be). And they do THIS by tending to and nurturing THEIR BRANDS. More than ever before, big corporations treat their Intellectual Property and the way their products and image are perceived with absolute kid gloves. Few things are as important to them.
And so they make a habit of projecting into the future — of EXTRAPOLATING current trends into future actions — such as BUYING THEIR PRODUCTS. And if they think their intended buyers might not buy their products for a particular reason — they tend to BORE IN ON THAT REASON. If they can ‘CHANGE’ the reason (a perception of their product or one of its ‘parts’), they’ll try to do that. But if it’s bigger than that — CULTURAL, say — they read the culture and adapt.
Case in point — the 21st Century-Fox Board of Directors decision to FIRE Bill O’Reilly — their Cash Cow. But the Board had a fact on the table in front of them — their advertisers would no longer advertise with Bill O’Reilly. In fact, they might not advertise on the NETWORK any more — because of what Bill O’Reilly represented to a HUGE SWATH of their buyers — WOMEN.
Ya see, that’s the BIG TREND that Corporate America saw and reacted to — the 21st Century Fox Board being the Canary in the Coal Mine: American Women are now THE Financial ‘DECISION-MAKERS’ in MOST American households. THEY, not men, have all the REAL financial power. Piss them off, you’re done. Cater to them — you will prosper.
And so Bill O’Reilly was expendable. Just like that.
Because America’s Advertisers saw and ‘reported back to us’ via how they now try to sell us things — where ‘we’re at’ where Bill O’Reilly and sexual harassment are concerned.
I’ll put it this way: We Ain’t Buying.
On a related note, when advertisers cast ads — they try to reflect their buyers — and the choices their buyers make and have made and the lives they lead and are leading. And when advertisers cast more and more ads with, say, mixed race couples? They’re telling us that THAT’S how America now sees itself.
In a world still painfully Trumpified, this is not a small victory. Hell — it’s a HARBINGER: Good Times may not be right around the corner but the Canary we hung out didn’t die from the toxic fumes. It did NOT die. In fact, it seems to be finding its voice…