I think that Jerry Seinfeld´s acceptance speech in Clios this year, was the most appropriate representation of what we actually do. Jerry might just be taking piss on every ad people on the audience and it might be filled with evil sarcasm and irony. I did not take it that way, I think it spoke with clarity and honesty why our industry is so great.
Five important points from Seinfeld´s Clio speech:
1. “I love advertising because I love lying. In advertising, everything is the way you wish it was”
Advertising is not really lying, but more of massaging the truth. Advertising is like your wedding photo, job interview or date. You are not making blatant lies, but you are emphasizing your good parts and trying to hide the bad parts. People are not stupid and this is the way the game is played. Just like in life, it is not the most handsome guy getting the prettiest girl. Who gets the prize will be the
2. “I don’t care that it won’t actually be like when I actually get the product being advertised because, in between seeing the commercial and owning the thing, I’m happy, and that’s all I want.”
I know that the weightlifting shoes I ordered will not make me the most awesome weightlifter in the world (or not even in my gym). There are no shortcuts for hard work and when doing sports your whole life you know it. Having those increases my mood and eventually will make me better lifter. The motivation to buy things is much more nuanced than just showing off or filling some kind emotional void and misery.
3. “We know the product is going to stink. We know that. Because we live in the world, and we know that everything stinks. We all believe, hey, maybe this one won’t stink. We are a hopeful species. Stupid but hopeful”
This is what makes us human beings so great. Our hopefulness exceeds our stupidity, and latter we have plenty of. Majority of start-ups will end in bankruptcy. Majority of marriages will end in divorce. Majority of the diets will end in you getting fat or even fatter again. But the flipside is that there are people who are living happily ever after, becoming multi-millionaires and staying in shape. Our ability for rational thinking combined with total negligence of that same rational thinking makes us the most dominant species in this planet.
4. “I also think that just focusing on making money and buying stupid things is a good way of life.”
I think so too.
5. “I believe materialism gets a bad rap. It’s not about the amount of money. Nothing’s better than a Bic pen, a VW Beetle, or a pair of regular Levi’s. If your things don’t make you happy, you’re not getting the right things.”
My grandmother mentioned in my wedding that after a day of shopping I had happily shouted: “This is the life everyone should live!” On that same occasion my father reminded that when he first took my little brother & me to McDonald´s and I got my first ever Bic Mac. I commented that important event with the declaration: “This is the happiest day of my life”. No wonder I ended up in advertising.
Consumption makes us feel good and yes it gets bad rap for no reason. I still get happy when after meticulous saving, I was able to secure myself a pair of Technics turntables. Those have served me well for over 15 years and I still feel utterly happy about that purchase. How many other events you still savor after 15 years? I still remember getting my first jeans (Levis 501s). They were not just jeans, they were passage to adulthood.
With advertising we try to channel the inner need of consumerism to the brands and products we represent. We do not create any new needs for consumers. We do not try to make you feel miserable of not owning stuff, but rather make you happy when you make the right purchase. Consuming products and experiences can have tremendous uplifting affect to your mood.
That is a great and we should be proud of what we do.
At least I am.