Marketing mediocrity 3.0

Okay, so I admit, though I’m fully on board with the era of digital creation, I’m a bit nostalgic for the days of craftsmanship. It’s not that I’m a technophobe. It’s just I’m struggling with the apparent reality that anyone can do my job. And I mean, anyone.

Youtube, Canva, Insta — social media has put communication arts in the hands of the people, people who didn’t study Burnett, Bernbach or Ogilvy. Grade schoolers, college kids, entrepreneurs and budget-freaked brand managers. These are the new stars of marketing and to them there’s nothing sacred about headlines, fade-ins or fonts. These folks have never obsessed over the size of a logo or squinted at a screen till 3 am while perfecting an ad. They are marketing civilians who wouldn’t know a jump cut or ho-hum headline if it bit ‘em in the booty text.

Nowadays, a clean layout smacks of creative mediocrity. And when it comes to commercials, who needs a meticulously edited music track when you can have a million hits on a homemade video featuring some pimply kid bastardizing your brand alongside his Casio keyboard?

Kerning? F o r g e d d u h b o u t i t! Syntax? Of this they have not understanding.

I recently asked a relatively young video editor to add a few frames to the tails of a scene. I thought it would make a smoother cut. I think he was more concerned it would cut into his lunch. I got a virtual eye roll and an email pushback in the form of, “If that’s what you really want.” In his defense, who wants to work on old-fashioned paid media when you could be posting your band’s latest gig on TicToc? And potentially reaching a highly receptive audience for practically zero dollars.

The fact that copywriting (the discipline which took me, oh let’s see, about a couple of decades to master) is now in the hands of the masses is not so painful for me as the reality that consumers don’t seem to give a Tweet about clunky type or heavy-handed copy. Today, it’s the lack of production quality that gets noticed. Amateur gets the Gold Pencil in the new world.

Whether this nascent era of raw and unrefined is really moving product off the shelves or making phones ring remains to be seen. But as long as ad dollars run short and consumer attention spans run even shorter, it’s certainly here to stay. As for me, this self-proclaimed copy perfectionist is trying her hand at a few reckless rants on a cookie-cutter blog site.