Don Draper, Coke and the fundamentals of advertising in just a few words

The hint of what was to come in the ending was summed up in this very short exchange in the episode before the finale. Don is asked to fix the coke machine

His response: “Don’t they do that”

Coca-Cola is one of the top brands of all time, and they, for the most part, outsource the “fixing” of their brand to guys like Don. They make the Coke- but, the few, the proud, the brave, come up with the ideas to sell it, which Don proceeds to do in the last scene of Mad Men, sitting on a hilltop, meditating, Ommmmmmm…… ding!

Clients often their ad agenices “to give me a new one” when what they really need is a new way to connect emotionally with their customers.

We have a favorite quote from Guy Kawasaki that fits: “advertising is the plastic surgery of business,: a procedure to make ugly and old products look good” from his book Selling the Dream,  and that’s what Don does.

How the big ideas come, is still the magical part of advertising. The really big ideas, almost always fit on a cocktail napkin.


Advertising is plastic surgery for business bullshit

Guy Kawasaki once wrote that “Advertising is the plastic surgery of business,: a procedure to make ugly and old products look good” in his book Selling the Dream

However, the business of business has become corrupted by charlatans practicing what can only be called some kind of voodoo economics- be it in banking, insurance, or even selling cars. We’ve started taking our own economic buzzword driven drivel and packaged it into arcane business models- ones that suggest that selling “Credit Default Swaps” is actually business instead of grand theft.

I recently questioned if Venture Capitalists, as they practice their craft now are anything but parasites. With the casinoization of Wall Street- where stock prices can drop by half, even when a company hasn’t changed it’s products- business model or suffered from any change in demand (Google during the current financial meltdown), is there any reality attached to the very real and tangible ways to define and guide business?

Either you have solid financial goals, objectives and strategies- with real products and services that fill a need, or you don’t. Back in the bomb of 1999-2001 we had VC backed online companies opening only to go out of business the next day ( ended up at a local liquidator- the breadth of the offering was amazing- Amazon like, when all indications that laser focus is the key to most online success).

I lay the blame purely on the shoulders of Wall Street and Bull Speak. You know, the ability of CEOs with no “skin in the game” who are able to “push the envelope” inventing new “ecosystems” for “profit optimization through….” while forgetting the basics of business, which is providing goods and services that fill real needs.

So, I was ecstatic to find this:

Bull has become the official language of business. Every day, we get bombarded by an endless stream of filtered, jargon-filled corporate speak, all of which makes it harder to get heard, harder to be authentic, and definitely harder to have fun. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

via Fight the Bull - Why Business People Speak Like Idiots.

Which besides having the book: Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide

Also comes with a downloadable BullFighter software program, which allows you to analyze your Microsoft Word document for a BS quotient. If there is one thing that stops advertising from being able to do its job- making the “ugly and old products look good” it’s the clients inability to clearly describe the market, and the product without lapsing into bull speak.

Copy god, Howard Luck Gossage once famously said “people don’t read ads, they read what interests them- and sometimes it’s an ad.” If you try to read some of the horse hockey coming out of our corporations, talking about “making paradigm shifts” when what they really mean is we can’t clearly tell you why we do what we do, but you should still believe our CEO is worth $2K an hour- and we’ll be lining up for a bailout from the Federal Government as soon as we figure out how to explain what we’ve been squandering our stockholders money on.

Business and advertising both are easier without bullshit. So go get your Bullfighter now- and lets work together on selling stuff.

We won’t confuse you with anything that won’t directly impact your bottom line (translation- make you money).