Don’t Be a Badger Painter. (Or, How Not To Be a Lazy Advertising Practitioner.)
That there is a dead armadillo. With a white line on his dead belly. I stole this metaphor from the great Trevor Beattie of Beattie McGuinness Bungay, formerly of TBWA London. I’ll apologize to him on Twitter. He’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. (Trevor, don’t sue me, please!)
Imagine this. Someone, somewhere, is a road painter. I’m not sure of his exact job title, but suffice to say, when he’s asked at keg parties what he does for a living, I bet he runs his fingers through his hair, takes an extra-long drag on his cigarette and whispers something like, “transportation beautification manager. Yeaaaaahhh.”
But on this particular workday, our hero runs across a dead armadillo. (Trevor uses a badger, but I’m from the south, so I switched it to armadillo.) So our hero, laying down parallel to the asphalt with brush in hand, he sees this armadillo and he has a choice…
At the exact same moment in time, many moons away, your client calls with another copy change. It’s the 4th one. In fact, she just changed one of her own changes. It wasnt’ “thought leader-y” enough. And she wants five options in half-an-hour.
Back to the asphalt. It’s hot. It’s sticky. It’s Tuesday. You know what the transportation beautification manager did? Nothing. He kept right on painting, whistling as he worked. No pride. No care. No worries. Yeaaaaahhh.
So what do you do when no one’s looking? What do you do when your direct mail piece will fight like hell to get the average response rate of 4.4%, if that.
Not caring is easy. But for the sake of the advertising and marketing industries, don’t be a badger painter. Please.
Click on the Gallup poll below to see where advertising practitioners rank in ethics.
Fact: WE ARE TIED WITH “STATE OFFICEHOLDERS.” Just think about that. No wonder my mom never looks me in the eye! Bankers are almost twice as trustworthy. Bankers! This is the same industry which almost singlehandily ruined America in 2008.
So please, for the sake of advertising and marketing, and for the sake of our children, please, please, adhere to Trevor’s most perfect metaphor. Do not be a badger painter. Write the damn headline 25 times. Hell, even David Ogilvy wrote 37 different headlines for a Sears Roebuck ad. He probably tested it 37 times, too. Read the brief. Do the research. Kern the headline. Even when your creative director or client or boss will never see it.
Together, you and I can raise the advertising industry bar to that of the respected, honorable television reporter.
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