Tag Archives: fdom

Chapter 7: Bill Hicks’ Advertising Conundrum

Bill Hicks: comedian, Houstonian, pop-culture iconoclast and professional giver of no fucks. A man with his finger so close to the pulse of his time that only those outside of the American dream could comprehend the full weight of his words. If Jerry Seinfeld coined the term observational humor, it could be said that Hicks mastered in observations behind the mainstream veil. Hicks’ struggle was solely against any industry pushing on him an agenda other than the freedom to live by his own.

I chose Hicks to head this segment because there is a trend within the mainstream underground to rid the world of broadcasts with motive. Along with Hicks himself, these people believe that advertising only exists to push corporate product/services towards those who don’t want to see them and don’t have a choice in the matter. This is a valid argument, and definitely one that should be discussed. But in my opinion, I wouldn’t consider it sound. Advertising is the purchased void between a communicator’s message and an unknown source. Historically, the industry has moved in bulk, with the highest bidder being awarded the most universally broadcasted message. Today’s industry is shifting in almost the complete opposite direction of this tactic. Advertisers (small and large) are competing against each other for viewer exclusivity. In 10 or 15 years, viewers will rarely have to witness an ad impression not designed for specifically them.

If we can boil down the advertising problem to a centralized question, I think it would go something like, are we confronted with too much advertising? In short- yes, definitely. But only if the ads coming in are centralized. When is the last time one saw a Coca Cola ad and thought, “I wonder what that tastes like?” Companies have been promoting their messages for literally all of some people’s lives, changing their “views” to mirror the times. This phenomenon got especially egregious in Bill Hicks’ time, when television was peaking at the height of its media dominance and the only companies who could afford media space were corporation dynasties teamed up with the media oligopoly (TV is still pretty much like this, except for the 90’s didn’t have as much channel fragmentation).

But what Hicks (and others) missed are the opportunities that advertising places in the hands of the “good guys.” If Hicks was alive today, there would be no doubt that he would have massive social media accounts. He could probably afford to launch multiple products, including a publication or podcast who’s sole purpose is to shed light on all the gross, evil shit going on in our society today. This ghost entity would immediately have the need to grow an audience. Although Hicks himself might not invest in media space (because he’d theoretically be so famous that he didn’t have to) he would surely promote his products with as much emphases (al-beit in a different manner) than the good ole’ folks at Pepsi Co.

When one breaks communication down, thats all the advertising industry really is.

It’s in this sense that the modern day advertiser can compare to journalists. Both toy in a corporate filled, sensationalized world. Both understand that the industry can’t just be omitted; they survive not as a want, but as a byproduct of informational overturn. Those who enter the industry do so to accomplish different goals. Some journalist dream of working for media giants such as The New York Times and CNN, others have a sole goal of toppling big corp and industry tycoons with it.

Two sides of the same coin; both understanding that no matter what the message being promoted, one is only as legitimate as the voice backing it.

The relationship between a manufacturer and his advertising agency is almost as intimate as the relationship between a patient and his doctor. Make sure that you can live happily with your prospective client before you accept his account. 
Ogilvy on Advertising
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Chapter 3: Branding

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One of the main themes of fdom is the concept of the Internet creating a personal branding effect. By using social media, one is posting clips of their core ideologies online and any like-minded business representative could potentially run across the public site and proceed to offer the site administrator a job, freelance work, etc.

This concept is extremely irksome to me for many reasons, [see chapter 1] one being that this type of thinking automatically throws everyone into the marketing field and rules out the possibility of public space being used for pure information/entertainment purposes. Opposers would argue that as long as others see one’s site, they are going to make judgements and inevitably build a brand around whatever information they have gathered. I see two solutions that poke holes in this logic: the first is the thousands of troll accounts that exist for the sole purpose of stirring up controversy among those who are (lets face it) either Internet illiterate or far too invested in comment box theories. These accounts contain no “real names” or motive (outside of chaos) and therefore have no marketability outside of the almost solely negative reputation they receive (or are they just going for that Bill Hicks non-marketing dollar?).

To paint the other scenario, I picture a homeless man surfing from a public library computer. Today is his lucky day, an HR exec from XYZ Media was recently told at a party about this man’s social media content that contained so much insight into the human condition that one simply couldn’t look away. Naturally, Monday rolled around and the exec messaged the homeless man’s page offering him a job writing a weekly article; complete with full benefits, a steady paycheck, and an enhanced reputation that would get the man off the streets and into proper society. The homeless man, stunned, promptly replied, “Fuck off stalker.” and then left to take a nap under a bridge somewhere. The point of this (unlikely?) story is that a brand is only a brand if one is using it for business purposes. Content is only as significant as one’s perspective allows. Media types saying otherwise do so to convince others to buy into the idea of “personal branding,” and ultimately expand their own entrepreneurship by fragmenting their ideas into different revenue streams. “Do you want to be richer/have more friends? Find me on social media for tips! Follow my blog advice! Read my oh-so original ebook explaining the magic of it all!” Content stacked on content stacked on content- we might as well call social media marketing the pyramid scheme of the 2010’s.

 

Conversely, everyone (not homeless) needs to pay the bills and one could do worse than to become recognized as an industry expert. And when one stops and thinks about it, isn’t branding really just about recognition? Wino Gary Vaynerchuk says in his blog (and outlines in his book) that legacy is more important than currency. His point is that he is willing to lose on the bottom dollar by being a loyal servant to his customers (sometimes giving away wine cases for free) and sacrificing company opportunity cost to continue his social media avenues. This customer intimate model is a proven business strategy and has been around long before the internet. It is why Nordstrom will accept any return without a receipt, why Fossil replaces all watches defected from wear and tear, and even how Apple shaped such a loyal following in the wake of launching colored PC’s. Vaynerchuk calls his marketing strategy “legacy” but what he means is prepping the foundation for added revenue (speaking events/book sales/etc). Some significant thoughts he emphasizes are the importance of designating a niche and his superior knowledge of the wine industry itself.

Innovation thrives through originality; without one’s own vision, one is just promoting the back cover of someone else’s book.

 

3 Things I Can Do To Improve My Own Brand

  • Carve a niche- niche’s are like goals; without a clear direction of where expertise lies, the message is too broad and often scattered aimlessly through the net-space.
  • Harp originality- one original idea can cut through noise more effective than any other technique media could ever offer. Also, a verifiable uniqueness creates an unbreakable copyright infringement when others try to talk/act like your personal character.
  • Design a process- it is one thing to have ideas, it is a far greater thing to physically recreate them. This is by far the most important step to gaining any recognition either from customers or peers.

“If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don’t let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.”

Olgilvy on Advertising 

 

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Chapter 2: National News

There has been a lot of talk about how journalism (particularly newspapers) is dying. While this is probably an outdated view, there is no doubt that the original model where news was published with intention has been dead in the mainstream for a long time. Entertainment news has grown to be beloved on a national level and thusly national news is pitched as outrageously entertaining. This is a far cry from the distinguishably unbiased approach most “legitimate” news sources claim to have (or to once have had).

While capitalism originally exploded the national news movement, (the wealthy had more access to information, leading to the sale of known information, leading to the eventual subtle mis-reputation of information to exploit more capital and/or gain influence) the back-end of the capitalism cycle (competition) will ultimately destroy the current media oligopoly. So why -when the writing is clearly on the wall- do we still look at the current outlay as an avenue for national camaraderie? Sticking to our chosen source and labeling only the others as hyperbole. Is this mass consumption of an agenda of topics even effective?

Outside of an occasional Daily Show viewing, I’m not one to get involved with the journalistic media. My ideal news source would be closer to Wikipedia than any conglomerate (when is the last time you looked up a fact and Wikipedia wasn’t the top source from Google?). Fortunately, tools such as Twitter and crowd-sourcing technologies are quickly realizing that ideal. But still I think we need to shift our view of what the news actually is. Because while we are very good at majoring in consumption, the original seed of information is wasted when positive change doesn’t systematically express itself. We’re stuck in a couch-potato outrage; where people are quick to decide how things should be, without any idea of what needs to be done to gain tangible results (which is no surprise, considering that Congress itself only has ideas of gridlock– another media win disguised as a solution failure). Instead of getting to work we just talk louder, hoping to gain followers by collapsing straw people.

 

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.”

Brave New World

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Chapter 1: Social Media

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There seems to be a special aura around the use of social networks from media types. Naturally, parties interested in the marketability of their brand should (and do) embrace the free services for all of their promotional possibilities. But at what point do social pages stop being social and start on the embarkment of self-marketing machinery? And furthermore, isn’t the encouragement of “social political correctness” just a tool used by media outlets themselves to feed theie ever growing loop?

Whenever I read articles from people like Steve Buttry– not only encouraging proper social media use, but demanding it as requirement to getting hired- I think (1) that qualification presides over online persona, and (2) if Steve Buttry thinks that sharing “inappropriate” content automatically makes one an unefficient employee, then Steve Buttry doesn’t understand youth or more importantly youth in revolt. The promise of social media is in the unadulterated communication between user and those to whom the user wants to communicate with. When an outside force enters the game, everyone loses and ultimately social sites drown.

Of course, I digress when it comes to journalists and citizens employed within the forefront of any public eye. Society is far too large and monetary to fight directly against it. And I understand that while the news field exponentially fragments, a social media outlet quite literally serves as the medium platform. But as these outlets grow older in age, the supposed public-circle perceptively expands, until even those with 100/200/300 followers start editing their voice into a device of marketability. For those with no direct correlation between post and paycheck, I would say, “Fuck your online marketability. Say what you want, post whatever photos you feel like posting.”  One’s own self isn’t a device to be edited. Any authority figure who places online prowess above genuine qualification is themselves lost in a virtual reality.”

In the words of Kenny Powers,

“Undaunted, I knew the game was mine to win. Just like in life, all of my successes depend on me. I’m the man who has the ball, I’m the man who can throw it faster than fuck. So that is why I am better than everyone in the world.”

“She was seeing the brand of pain and fear on the faces of people, and the look of evasion that refuses to know it–they seemed to be going through the motions of some enormous pretense, acting out a ritual to ward off reality, letting the earth remain unseen and their lives unlived, in dread of something namelessly forbidden–yet the forbidden was the simple act of looking at the nature of their pain and questioning their duty to bear it.”

Atlas Shrugged 

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Introduction

 

“Don’t you sometimes despair?” he asked. Dr. MacPhail shook his head. “We don’t despair,” he said, “because we know that things don’t necessarily have to be as bad as in fact they’ve always been.”

“We know that they can be a great deal better,” Susila added. “We know it because they already are a great deal better, here and now, on this absurd little island.”

“But whether we shall be able to persuade you people to follow our example, or whether we shall even be able to preserve our tiny oasis of humanity in the midst of your worldwide wilderness of monkeys- that, alas,” said Dr. MacPhail, “is another question. One’s justified in feeling extremely pessimistic about the current situation. But, despair, radical despair- no, I cant see any justification for that.”

“Not even when you read history?”

“Not even when I read history.”

“I envy you. How do you manage to do it?”

“By remembering what history is- the record of what human beings have been impelled to do by their ignorance and the enormous bumptiousness that makes them canonize their ignorance as a political or religious dogma.”

Island

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