Ten days ago two rich advertising men - closeted by a small, sharkish cabal of investment bankers sniffing a wedge - cut a deal. Ten days later, a fatberg of online bilge has spewed from hundreds of thousands of online sources in over sixty countries. Sift your way through all the opinion, comment and knowledge and two dominant terms emerge: “I” and “my.” No-one knew. But did that stop the advertising and comms industry telling you it knew? (Rhetorical).
Advertising and comms is an insecure and paranoid business. There is an endless race to be the ear that the CEO whispers an insight into, in the hunt for competitive and financial advantage. PR fares little better – in fact, the industry is fairly overt about it – whinging about its inferiority – rather than acting on it.
Perception and reality are two different beasts – as one would expect from an industry whose business is perception. On day two or three of Publicom, what began to grate was reading a stream of links from people roughly one hundred steps removed from the Wren/Levy meetings; giving their own seals of approvals on smartphones, thousands of miles away.
“The more I see of this Publicis-Omnicom deal the more I like.”
“Here’s the downside to the Publicis-Omnicom merger.”
“Publicis-Omnicom isn’t a surprise for five reasons.”“Wren’s been smart here..”
Wren and Levy’s surnames were dropped into posts with the ease and intimacy of football managers doing a deal over a £10million “Macedonian misfit,” or a “wantaway striker.”
The reality? No-one knew. Senior clients. Senior staff. Genuine rivals. David Jones memorably tweeted 48 hours before signature that “pigs might fly.”
My advice to the Radian 6, Sysomos and Adobe Socials of this world: for your next update, build in a bullshit filter for us. I’d upgrade.