I read a lot. Today, I came across a passage in “Confessions of an Advertising Man” by the great copywriter and agency chief, David Ogilvy. It was originally published in 1963, a year after my birth. I’ve wanted to read this book for years, so the timing of this paragraph was almost prescient:
“But even in the United States it is rare for advertising men to be appointed to important jobs in government. This is a pity, because some of them carry more guns than most of the lawyers, professors, bankers and journalists who are favored. Senior advertising men are better equipped to define problems and opportunities; to lead large short-range and long-range goals; to measure results; to lead large executive forces; to make lucid presentations to committees; and to operate within the disciplines of a budget. Observation of my elders and betters in other advertising agencies leads me to believe that many of them are more objective, better organized, more vigorous, and harder-working then their opposite numbers in legal practice, teaching, banking and journalism.”
So I went and looked for what we have now, and of course, a lot of lawyers make the list, as well as career politicians.
We all know the definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing, yet expecting a different result” yet we continue, for the most part to send unimaginative people like Mike Turner to Washington. Our elections have become boring evaluations of sound bites and euphemisms. Looking over the promises made by politicians is flat out boring compared to reading a well done ad- because at least you know the statements in an ad are policed by an industry that believes in “truth in advertising” and there are legal ramifications to making outrageous or untrue statements.
Another ad great, Howard Luck Gossage, said “people don’t read ads, they read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.” I’m looking forward to the day when politics is more about ideas than ideology, and when we start passing legislation that’s actually worth reading.
You ever want inspiration on how it’s done, when done right? Go read the Declaration of Independence. That may be the quintessential example of retail politicking, had it not been inspired legislation, we wouldn’t have a nation.
And note, while there were a lot of lawyers and politicians who signed it, there were also quite a few farmers and merchants- both well underrepresented in Congress today.