Marketing mediocrity 3.0

Okay, so I have a confession to make. I’m a content marketing evangelist who is utterly dispirited by the lack of creative craftsmanship today. It’s not that I’m a stickler for creative rules or anything. It’s just I’m struggling with the apparent reality that anyone can do my job. And I mean, anyone.

YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok — 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 a.m. while perfecting an ad. They are marketing civilians who wouldn’t know a jump cut or ho-hum headline if it bit them in the booty text. Nowadays, a “clean” layout smacks of creative mediocrity. And when it comes to video content, who needs a meticulously edited music track when you can collect a million hits on a homemade clip featuring some pimply faced kid bastardizing your brand alongside his Casio?

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

I once asked a relatively young editor to add a few frames to the tails of a scene. I thought it would make a smoother cut for our client’s TV spot. 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 beats on Soundcloud? 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.

I suspect the pendulum will eventually swing back to an era of style and substance. But as long as ad dollars run short and consumer attention spans run even shorter, raw and unrefined is certainly here to stay. As for me, this self-proclaimed copy perfectionist will continue to crank out a few reckless rants on her pre-coded blog site.

So far, I rather like it. TTYL.