Friday, September 5, 2008

Sometimes Advertising Makes Me Proud

Legendary adman Leo Burnett (his eponymous Agency survives him) once wrote, "Let's gear our advertising to sell goods, but let's recognize also that advertising has a broad social responsibility."

That responsibility usually manifests itself with organized community service activities like the Ad Council and it's many nationwide pro bono campaigns. But sometimes it broadens further into something more improvised, like the following via a collision ("meeting" would be too weak a term) of Ariana Huffington and Rich Silverstein at an event at Google last year.

This, from the Huffington Post, November 15, 2007:
"Silverstein, who as co-chairman of Goodby, Silverstein, and Partners was behind the famous "Got Milk?" ad campaign and the Budweiser frogs, had such a grasp of what makes for effective communication in radio, movies, TV, and online, that I thought he might have some ideas on how to help the Democrats, who continue to struggle with framing an election where they are holding all the cards. He did. When I suggested that he blog about his ideas, he said that since he usually expresses himself best in visual terms, he wanted to see if he could 'blog visually.'

The result is three powerful posters that simply but graphically capture the lunacy of the modern GOP. "Here is my thinking," Silverstein told me, "What if we could TiVo the last six-plus years and play them back - without comment -- for the American people, and let them connect the dots? It's not a pretty picture." Silverstein's take away message is uncluttered and direct: 'Haven't we had enough? Democrats '08.' "

Here's what Silverstein did with that message.

Fast forward to this week: three versions ot that poster showed up in bus shelters in the Twin Cities, "all up in the faces" of Republicans local and remote - and Ariana and Rich (see the video) were on hand to make certain that the work got noticed.

In the late nineties I had a classmate in grad school (I'm a late bloomer) who'd taught high school American history in Wyoming. When asked to describe the curriculum by a local acquaintance, he waxed poetic (he thought) about new ideas of bottom-up history, about the inclusion of marginalized populations, etc. To which the inquirer responded, "That's not history, that's Social Science. History's about facts, not theories."

That's the true brilliance of Rich Silverstein's posters. They're factual. Eloquent. Arguably unarguable.

Yes, as we read down the page we all should agree - 306 million strong - we've had enough.

I'm often proud of people in advertising and the work they do. Today I'm extra proud.

Bill Gates Can Be Funny? Yes!

True story. Watch this:

Then take a look at what AdAge has to say.
Don't miss the "inside baseball" article - kind of a AdAge gossip piece.