Marketers have told themselves that social media gives them a great opportunity to engage consumers in conversations.

Yes, it does. But sometimes, you should keep your damn mouth shut.

Witness the recent on-line video boner and spot by Pepsi.

The work was created and produced in-house (thank God, I’d hate to blame an ad agency for this). The work features model Kendall Jenner and a cast of hundreds. Oh, the drama!

It opens with an Asian cellist atop a skyscraper working out some jams.

Next, we see a Muslim Woman Wearing Hijab photographer struggling with her artistry — she’s not satisfied, she crumples contact sheets and throws them away like flu season Kleenex.

Then we see sexy model Kendall Jenner in a glam get-up and make up. She’s being styled and photographed for a fashion shoot.

Kendall makes loves to the lens, but we can tell she’s just not that into it.

All this artistic conflict is playing out and intercut with a major march happening in the streets. A multi-ethnic crowd is protesting (there is even diversity in headwear!). The crowd is attractive and carries art directed signs!

Now, the cellist is back in his apartment. He opens an ice cold Pepsi and sips the elixir. This magical moment ignites something in him!

The photographer notices the marchers going by and grabs her camera, inspired by an artistic spark!

The cellist is marching, too, but wait–– now he’s playing on the street with other musicians.

Holy crap… now some hip dudes are breaking it down! There is dancing in the streets.

Kendall takes the march in with her big puppy dog browns. She senses she’s missing out on something big! Hey, there’s the Asian cellist walking by and he gives Kendall a knowing nod as if to say, “Come join the hijinks of our orderly ethnically-diverse social disorder.”

Lickety-split, Kendall rips off her hair (fortunately, it was a wig). She wipes off her lipstick (it was really red). Next thing, she’s out of the glittery silver dress and has slipped into some skin tight jeans, a tight white top, and designer denim jacket.

Whoa–– who knew she could kick it old school?!

AND NOW, now there is a tub of Pepsi products on ice (DUH– everyone knows protesters like to hydrate with carbonated beverages while they support their various causes). Kendall grabs a can of Pepsi and she carries it through the crowd.

The people are loving this. She’s making it real!

Kendall walks to the front of the line where some boys in blue (it’s the fuzz, man) are lined up to keep those protesters in order.

The hip music track comes to a crescendo and breaks.

The shutterbug raises her camera.

Kendall hands her Pepsi can to a cop.

The photographer snaps the shot.

(Fortunately, no one shouts, “Shots fired”.)

The cops drinks.

The music starts again. Kendall and crowd raise their fists in air and cheer.

There is joy in the streets as we see the cop nod approvingly to his fellow officers. His nod seems to say, “This Pepsi quenches the thirst I have for Millennial protests of whatever’s getting under their diverse skin tones.”

Cut to the crowd marching on as bold titles proudly proclaims:
(Pepsi Logo)

From the moment this sucker was released, it caused a storm of ridicule and protest. People saw it for what it was–– a whitewash of the emotions behind protests.

A blatant attempt for a commercial product to insert itself into genuine outrage.

There is a reason people protest, Pepsi. Emotions are high. Emotions are real. And you are not a part of that conversation.

If you can’t be empathetic, compassionate and understanding, sit down and shut up.

NOTE: Pepsi withdrew the awful ad shortly after the publication of this. Obviously, Empathetic Adman has incredible power.

There’s precious little marketing I look at with envy. We live in a world where marketers ensure messages are safe and devoid of anything that might offend anyone or they’re bombastic strategy missives lacking empathy for the audience.

We’re served chest-thumping hyperbolic diatribes of how the product will improve humanity and make our drab lives worth living… or we get borrowed interest advertising razzamatazz with little relevance to the product.

The Marcom landscape is like a bowl of lukewarm oatmeal. Expected and bland.

So when a drop of red paint appears on the gray marketing canvas, I take notice and cheer, and I’m loving the new campaign for Emerald Nuts from Barton F. Graf.

The campaign is based on an actual Amazon review the product received. “Yes Good” someone wrote.

Yes. Good. Any questions?

The smart people at the ad agency saw a bone with lots of meat on it and feasted. Two simple words that slap one upside the head with their honest sincerity.

And, go!

They created a TV spot that stands out visually and verbally for its simplicity and candor.

They also created a passel of videos inspired by other reviews. Some are too-too, but I give the creative team props.

And I cheer the anonymous writer of “Yes Good” for calling it like he/she tastes it.

This is a refreshing campaign that’s really good (hmm, too much?).

Pictured above are a couple of libations my business partner Tony O’Haire, and I shared recently celebrating 20-years of leading an advertising agency.

They’re Manhattans–– old school madmen drinks, the appropriate cocktails for playing two decades in Don Draper’s game (without all the smoking and sex).

When we started Ames Scullin O’Haire Advertising, our name was also our employee list. We had no accounts, no business–– just an idea we could be a better agency for clients who believed the best work came from strategy, creative, and media working in unison with marketers, using empathy and creativity to connect with people.

Our philosophy was a zig when the business was zagging. 1997 was the age of specialization and globalization. Media separated from the agency mothership, as did other disciplines.

New profit centers were born!

Ad agencies were playing a game of Pac-Man–– they’d pop up, and many were soon gobbled by large holding companies.

Broadcast, print and direct ruled the day.

The internet was called cyberspace, and AOL installation discs were like “Star Trek” Tribbles–– somehow reproducing and popping up everywhere.

Social media happened in chat rooms. And yes, like today, there were lots of creeps lurking in the shadows of anonymity.

Google hadn’t begun yet (I had to Google its start date: September 4, 1998).

It was seven years before Facebook showed its face. Mark Zuckerberg was working on getting through puberty.

There was no DVR. People recorded shows on things called VHS tapes. There were Blockbuster stores all over the land, teeming with thousands of movies–– every movie you could imagine.

Except for the one you wanted to rent.

It was a different time, and fortunately, our personal approach to multiple disciplines working directly with clients had appeal. Our business grew fast, and we added smart, entrepreneurial people to our team.

Although much has changed over the past twenty years, some things haven’t. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

Breaking up is hard to do. I have been amazed that clients will be loyal to agencies that nickel and dime them, abuse them, deliver bad service and work, and move at glacial speeds. Apparently, the fear of the unknown is more upsetting than the pain of the known.

ROI is the holy grail and all businesses feel the pressures or hitting quarterly numbers. Naturally, metrics and analytics are more important than ever, but they shouldn’t be the only factors in making decisions. They need analysis and context.

Media is ubiquitous. Messages are everywhere, space and time are portioned out and sold. We have more ways to reach people than ever, and we do. It’s a matter of time until someone monetizes death, selling space on coffin lids.

Creativity is more important than ever. Because people know the tricks advertisers play, you’d better find intriguing and interesting ways to get people to notice you and your message. Otherwise, you’re invisible.

Attention spans are condensing. Patience is in short supply. People are frazzled and distracted, making all communications hard as hell.

Speeds accelerate. Fast will only get faster still, and if your website needs time to load, don’t expect people to wait. They won’t.

There are more choices and more parity. Success breeds imitators. More competition means more confusion about product differences and why something is better than something else. Marketing messages become critical. You’d better have a reason to believe and buy.

Money isn’t worth your soul (unless you’re soulless). Horrible clients will kill morale, eat your innards and poison your agency’s culture. Fire bad clients, walk away and preserve your integrity.

Trust is everything. Marketing is still a relationship business, one where trust is critical. Trust must be earned every day. Once it’s gone, you’re a step closer to death. Be truthful, candid and trust-worthy.

Product loyalty rules. The best new customer is your current one. Keep them happy and know how to delight them. Build a tribe of advocates. Treasure them, always. That’s your insurance going forward.

Don’t surrender your brand to your audience. While customers are critical, you still need to engage them and give them reasons why your product is best for them. You cannot turn the voice of your brand over to them. They will have their say–– praising you or trashing you, but you need to maintain your voice and be a participant, not an idle bystander.

Narcissism is rampant. The result of living in front of screens is that it can turn each of us into a god. We select what we want to see, when we want to see it, the people in our lives (our tribes), our news feeds (creating our truth bubbles of like-minded points of view), activities and interests are only an app away, and anyone has the potential for fame if something he/she does on the internet goes viral. All of this self-centered control makes it easy to become egomaniacal and tune out the world. Is there anything sadder than seeing a family in a restaurant with each member staring at his/her smartphone? As a marketer, you must appreciate the mindset of your audience and the challenges you face.

Security is an illusion. Once, advertising was one of the few totally mercenary careers. We always knew our existence was predicated on the thin veneer of an account’s relationship with the agency. Now, that’s true of every business. They’re all mercenary. If a quarterly number must be made, bodies will fall. We’re all freelancers. Accept it, embrace it.

More for less only goes so far. While “more for less” is a command all businesses give their suppliers, know that eventually, physics take hold. Lower prices will eventually cost you. To quote Click & Clack of “Car Talk” radio fame, “The stingy man spends the most.” Don’t be stingy.

“No” is often your best defense. You must decide what you’re willing to do and for how little money you’re willing to do it. Someone will always do it for less. ALWAYS! Be fair and charge for the value you bring.

Covering your ass can be dangerous. Playing it safe is risky. Doing things only to maintain status quo often leads to failure. Not having a point of view will eventually convince people you’re adding nothing and are therefore expendable.

Stretch and experiment. One of the beautiful things about analytics is you have the chance to test different concepts and messages. Do so, be bold. Learn, adapt, create, repeat.

What you don’t do is often more important than what you do do. Because there are so many ways to reach people, and, potentially aggravate them, there are many ways to waste money. You need a smart plan and messages designed for your audience.

Fun is in short supply. Our business, all businesses, used to be much more fun. Today, unfortunately, people are overworked, stressed, nervous. That’s why it’s more important than ever to try and have some fun along the way. It’s not brain surgery (unless you’re a brain surgeon).

Meetings can kill progress. All too often, gathering a group of people is the quickest way to dull the edge of ideas, kill momentum, and grind progress to a halt. Only meet when essential, and with a clear and concise outcome expected.

The message is still king. Calling all work content belittles it. Churning out crap is still crap. Most digital films suck because there is no time limitation. What are you trying to say? Say it with some style, and get on with life.

We’re still talking to human beings. If you can’t bring compassion and empathy to your audience, you’re failing. Your first job is humanity. Don’t expect technology to have all the answers. Look within yourself. Once you surrender your humanity, rest assured technology will replace you.

I could go on, but I’ll respect your time and attention–– maybe you have a Manhattan waiting. Cheers, and thanks.

Good creative people are like felines–– always on the prowl, on the hunt for good ideas.

They are curious creatures who thrive on feeding their insatiable curiosities. Curiosity does not kill them, it feeds them. They hunger for knowledge–– as much as they can find.

Exceptional creative people know that the more seeds they plant in their heads, the more likely they are to have a bountiful harvest.

They’re also honest enough to admit there’s no such thing as pure creativity. One cannot create from nothing. You need something bumping into something else, giving the creator the opportunity for rearranging, juggling, and reconnoitering.

Voila! The creative process. From something, something ‘new’ is created. Naturally, creative people want to stock their brains with lots of fertile material.

If you have creative people working on your business and they’re not reviewing all available research or customer background materials, be concerned.

If they’re not researching the industry and your competitors and their campaigns, be afraid.

If they’re not asking questions, start running.

These are surefire signs that you have crappy creative people working on your business. They’re going through the motions and doing business as usual. Their lack of curiosity and exploration will result in lackluster efforts.

Beyond being curious, what determines a good creative person? He or she must be empathetic and interested in the human condition. A good creative person understands the role of marketing communications but from a compassionate and respectful place.

“What’s in it for the consumer?” they ask themselves, then brainstorm to figure out.

I also look for something else in creative people. I want people who have interests beyond marketing–– I like artists, musicians, poets, playwrights, novelists, illustrators, scrapbookers, movie fanatics, bookworms, whatever.

Why? Because an outside creative passion gives them a place to call their own, where they can let their imaginations roam free and feed their appetites, and nurture their souls.

Let’s face it, the marketing world has much more rejection than acceptance for creative people, and I believe it’s important for them to have a patch of mental land to cultivate.

We all need our sanctuaries to stay fresh and recharge.

I believe the rules above apply to all marketing people, and not just those labeled ‘creative.’

Today it’s too easy to insulate yourself, to self-select a tribe of like-minded people and create your bubble of complacency.

That’s not good.

It’s human to want to stretch and be curious, to prod, poke and explore. We all are creators, and if marketers are to succeed, they must understand and nourish the insatiable need within us all to know.

When we filter our messages through our human lenses, we will naturally make them richer and more rewarding for our audiences.

Here’s to staying curious and appreciating humanity. Who’s ready to write some haiku?

I’ve dried the tears from watching last night’s Super Bowl Roman Numeral Something Game, and now I’ll grab a tissue and discuss the commercials that aired in it.

I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow for all 51 spots. That would be too depressing.

But I will say most advertisers pissed their money away. That’s a shame considering thirty seconds fetched a cool five million clams.

Where to begin this analysis? How about the basics–– why advertise in the first place?

The easy answer is to get your product better known. Great, no event brings more eyeballs huddled to screens than the Super Bowl. So, all an advertiser has to do is perform.

Few did. Super Bowl advertising has become the Super Bowl of advertising and every sponsor looks to outdo everyone else. In an effort to do so, many rely on celebrities, stunts (like live commercials!), bold statements, gags, animals, famous music, babies, patriotism, cynicism, etc.

Unfortunately, most of it is not in service of the product that is supposed to be the star of the show. It’s just borrowed interest intended to get buzz for buzz sake.

Which would work if every other sponsor did boring product-centric spots–– but they don’t. It’s spectacle after spectacle after hoopla spectacle.

It’s exhausting. It’s boring.

One of my pick hits of the night was a spot for AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD. Open on a football on the field. A voiceover explains football season will soon be over. A bat wrapped in barbed wire comes violently into frame and deflates the football. The announcer says but a new season of THE WALKING DEAD is coming. Short, sweet, simple, true, relevant.

If you’re a fan of WD, you know that bat is Lucille, badass Negen’s trusted companion for discipline. If you don’t know WD, you may have had your curiosity piqued and wish to tune in and see what’s up with a barbed wire-wrapped bat.

In advertising, this is considered a score.

This spot was probably the cheapest production budget of any that aired last night, but it was rooted in truth and relevance to the product. Something few other spots achieved.

They weren’t all misses. The Kia spot with Melissa McCarthy was a fun ride with a simple message–– Kia has an easy way to care for the environment. The commercial was entertaining and delivered.

The Skittles spot was fun enough. Hardly in the top tier of Skittles commercials, but a worthy entry into the category of showing extreme passion for the candies.

I liked the Terry Bradshaw Tide spot. The commercial was clever and made the simple point that Tide gets stains out. Plus, there was a kicker fifteen-second spot later to refuel its fires. A worthy entry into the ridiculous-lengths-someone-goes-to-for-the-product-benefit category.

The Turbo Tax Humpty Dumpty spot was creepy in an I-can’t-look-away way. I loved the voices and acting. Weird, but sticky and good.

While I loved the technique of the Honda spot, the message seemed irrelevant to the product. Yes, famous people were nerdy and no one in high school knows how they’ll end up, but I don’t think the general public thinks of Honda as the nerd in the back of the class who has suddenly made good.

Do they?

As for all the quasi-political statements, well, they were brave but foolish. I think the nation today is so polarized, so caustic, that the efforts were noble in the abstract and dangerous in practice. Sure, you’ll get buzz for being edgy, but you’re also getting put through the buzzsaw with many people for touching the third rail of politics in the Twenty-First Century.

And, by the way, were any of these messages relevant to the brand message or why someone should buy it?

If you haven’t seen the official popularity scorecard, here it is.

All-in-all, not a great night for Atlanta Falcons fans, or advertising fans.

Where’s the damn Kleenex?!

When I was 23-years-old, I ran away and joined a circus.

I was not a lion tamer, sword swallower, daredevil, roustabout or acrobat. I was the guy in charge of getting all those people seen by as many people as possible.

I was an advance man. I traveled ahead of the show and pimped it hard, living for three weeks at a clip in the cheap motels of the small and medium-sized towns the circus played.

My responsibilities included negotiating all media buys, blanketing the market with paid media (negotiated half cash/half trade for tickets), and arranging promotional media (ticket giveaways), publicity, public relations, and media relations.

I also ordered hay for the elephants and arranged for the cleaning of porta-potties (“donikers” in circus-speak–– toilets mounted on truck flatbeds).

Sounds pretty glamorous, right?

Before I joined the circus, I had been a copywriter at a couple of ad agencies where I learned I wasn’t very good at office politics. I felt a job traveling America promoting a circus would improve my writing chops and be good for my advertising career.

So, was it? Absolutely. (Please, refrain from clown jokes.)

When I returned to the copywriting life after a circus season, agency people looked at me like I had six heads when I told them about my advance man past (I wish I did have six heads–– that would have been a surefire circus attraction, and those extra noggins would have helped in brainstorming ad concepts).

What valuable nuggets did I learn from my big top days?

I learned to be independent. In the circus, I was on my own when I arrived to work a new market. I was always the stranger in town.

Like working on a brand people have never heard of–– we each have to establish our identities.

My calling card was a circus. For some, that held excitement, romance, and adventure. Others viewed me as a sleazy carnie–– someone looking to fleece the locals, pick their pockets, and skip town without paying bills.

Like any aspect of marketing communications, gaining trust was difficult, but critical.

The circus gig taught me a better understanding of people. I was always the outsider, unknown, suspected, and distrusted. I empathized with the suspicions and trepidations of locals and worked to gain their confidence.

In my travels, I learned that every person wants acknowledgment and appreciation for who he or she is.

Geography changed, humanity didn’t.

There are marketers who still haven’t learned this. They want to communicate what they want, not what the audience wants.

I learned the importance of simple, consistent messaging. Because a circus plays limited time engagements, every message had the show dates, location, times, ticket prices and where to buy them.

In marketing, we must remind ourselves what we want our audiences to do, and show them how they can do it.

My best circus dates seemed to be the result of coordinated efforts. I always tried getting local businesses to lend their name to our show with co-op promos. I engaged the local media for performer interviews and participation in circus activities.

Like with social media, I learned it’s important to build a tribe and let them help you spread your good word.

I learned the power of emotional hooks. People remember their first circus. For parents, there’s emotional power in exposing their children to a circus, a four-thousand-year-old art form.

It’s like the pride parents take bringing their children to Disney World. In marketing, emotional drivers beat rational reasons every time.

I also learned there were no sure things.

There were towns where the messaging was strong, clear, and unified, where the P.R. and publicity were incredible, but the crowd sizes were meh.

There wasn’t always a correlation between my efforts expended and the results achieved. Some towns weren’t circus towns, or, maybe the location or dates were bad.

Who knows the problem? Things happen.

The same is true in marketing. Sometimes you can do everything well, and it still doesn’t work.

Learn what you can and move on. It’s best not to obsess over failures. Humans are unpredictable.

The circus I worked for folded its big top last year. And soon Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey will be calling it quits after 146-years.

I suspect some day all circuses will vanish. But I’ll always treasure my circus days–– when I was a mustached stranger in a bad suit, new in town and scrambling to establish trust.

It’s what I’ve been doing ever since for advertisers.

It’s amazing some stories take so long before they’re told, but fortunately, 55-years after the fact, “Hidden Figures” is finally on the big screen.

This compelling movie is the true story of three African-American women working on the United States space program at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

The year is 1962, and segregation is in full force. There are “colored” water fountains, “colored” restrooms, and even a “colored computers” room where African-American women analysts work. Civil rights protests are underway as police, dogs and water hoses are turned on American citizens searching for their equality guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

It’s an ugly time.

Prejudice and misogyny are two strikes the main characters face daily. Mathematician Katherine Goble Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), engineer Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) and informal supervisor Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer) must surmount the roadblocks put before them.

They are varied, and they are many.

The women are recognized for their color, and because of that, have a hard time being recognized for their brains, skills, and ambitions.

But the space race is on, and John F. Kennedy is dreaming big. The Russians are off to an early lead, and American pride is on the line. Can the space race ease some of the racial barriers Katherine, Mary, and Dorothy face?

The IBM 7090 computer is also an important character. This incredible new technology takes up an entire room and requires a crew of computer specialists to operate and stacks of cards that must be programmed with complex FORTRAN code to run calculations.

The machine is destined to render obsolete the work of brilliant mathematician Katherine Goble Johnson. Her primary duties are double checking the figures of other mathematicians and formulating calculations.

She reports to Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory” (Jim Parsons, perfect in the jerk role), and they both report to Kevin Costner, the benevolent head of the space program.

Our three main characters face race issues from humans, along with technology issues from machines.

The stakes are high–– on the line is Astronaut John Glenn’s butt in a space capsule and American pride.

“Hidden Figures” is an incredible story of three extraordinary people overcoming the odds and making a lasting impact.

We know the history of the space program’s accomplishments, but until recently, few of us knew the stories of these women and how they helped make those achievements possible.

Do yourself a favor, see “Hidden Figures” and prepare to be moved, and outraged at how society behaved in our not so distant past.

It’s one of the best films of 2016.

The short answer is, “Yes.”

If your job can be automated, it probably will be.

If it can be performed more precisely and cheaply by a techno-gizmo, it’s just a matter of time until it will be.

If what you produce as a human can be done by a machine, technology has a target on your back that it will read once we install its target-recognition software.

Cue the ironic trombones; the ones only humans understand because technology is still befuddled by the nuance of irony.

Humanity’s got that going for it–– irony, baby. Irony!

Despite what politicians say about protecting good middle-class-building factory jobs, those are vanishing, and not just to places with cheaper labor pools.

The real enemy of middle class employment is usually technology, as stated in this recent NEW YORK TIMES article.

We live in changing times where flux is the norm and we all must learn to adapt. Or become irrelevant.

So, what’s this mean for marketing in the Twenty-First Century? How can we ensure our survival and relevance in a world where our audience is justifiably fearful, skeptical and often cynical?

It means we have to be more human and empathetic and compassionate about our audiences than ever before. We’re all under stress, all overworked and under-appreciated.

Potentially, we’re all in the crosshairs of technology. To quote baseball legend and philosopher king Satchel Paige, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”

Marketers should be more respectful of people’s time. And be more rewarding with our messaging–– adding value, entertaining, informing, inspiring, and making every encounter an enriching one.

In 2017, let’s be more creative and more artful with our craft. Let’s stand out and stand for something.

Technology enables ways to reach people in new and innovative ways, but let’s always remember they are just channels to humanity. The messages we deliver have the potential to change beliefs, pique interests, and motivate masses.

One message and one individual at a time.

If you are not up for the challenge, if you’re willing to surrender your insights, your intellect, your perspective and point of view, artistry and creativity in being a human being, be prepared to rendered obsolete.

Because technology will prevail.


People have always been suspicious of marketers. We are the sideshow barkers preaching our promises to the masses, inviting them to buy our wares and enjoy the incredible benefits our clients’ products and services provide.

Our audiences have always taken our messages with a grain of salt. Make that a boulder of salt.

Fair enough. We know the game and somehow have to build credibility, so we love and nurture social media for unbiased comments and reviews. But now, even that is suspect.

It’s easy enough to fake reviews or give products away for favorable words. People are catching on to that sleazy game and becoming suspicious that maybe the alleged real people are just shills.

Carnie barkers always had shills–– right?

Yes, our problem gaining credibility with a suspicious public is worse than ever, and it’s compounded by the fact that today truth is whatever people want it to be.

And that should scare the hell out of everyone.

Think about it: whatever you’d like to believe, you can find support for it. It’s easy. Google it, go down that rabbit hole, and you’ll find like-minded people.

You can also question any alleged ‘truth’ and find counter points-of-view. Oh, and to make matters easier, social networks like Facebook will ensure you have an enthusiastic crowd in your echo chamber, then feed you and your posse a steady diet of news supporting your POV to stoke your passions and get those clicker fingers itching.

It’s all about the clicks, babe.

Technology has made it possible for each of us to construct a worldview cocoon and narrowcast perspective. Since human beings crave attention and love affirmation, we can give ourselves thumbs ups and pats on the back when people agree with us.

And why wouldn’t they? They’re your tribe, your people, and when you’re shouting into a canyon, your echo is rich and fulfilling.

And what of the news itself? Well, what flavor would you like? Conservative? Liberal? Alt right? Socialist? Green Party? Neo-vegan with a twist of Whig?

You can find your like-minded news feed; that’s easy. But sadly, people today have such short attention spans, and all media has had to cut back on real journalism because it requires lots of time and money, so most of what passes for news is just pundits spewing talking points and feel-good puppies-lost-are-found-type stories.

It’s hyperbolic bombast or fluffy puff pieces.


In the “X-Files,” Mulder and Scully were always in search of the truth. Now all of us are on that journey, but we’re on our own.

Me? I believe that the aliens who landed in Area 51 are sequestered in a small office adjacent to the Oval Office, and they command our leaders. The aliens our overlords.

I know this for a fact because I read it on the internet.

Good luck on your journey finding truth, and know your audience is doing the same. Be empathetic to their struggles and suspicions.

A sideshow barker’s job isn’t getting any easier.


We live in an age of worshipping at the altar of big data. We want the numbers to tell us the story, and the biggest numbers rule our decisions.

It’s lazy, and it’s dangerous.

Look at what happened in the recent presidential election–– the numbers had Hillary as a shoe-in to the oval office, the only question was by how much she would dominate Donald.

But surprise! The numbers lied. More accurately, people lied, or at least didn’t disclose their true intentions.

The media narrative became that the flyover states rebelled against the liberal elites on the coasts–– that it was rural people versus city slickers.

People’s passion for candidates was missed or not measured, or, voters didn’t want to tell pollsters their true intention to vote for Trump because they thought they would be labeled in judgmental ways.

Whatever happened, it was a big fail for big data. The pollsters historically blew it.

Well, guess what? The same thing is happening in marketing where there is an overreliance on analytics, metrics, numbers.

Many marketers are terrified to trust their instincts and get caught making a gut decision. Nope, that can be trouble and most CMOs don’t want to make an artistic, emotional choice based on empathy, creativity, passion, and understanding of humanity.

Instead, they want numbers to tell them what to do. Test, test, test, test, and may the highest number win.

Do that–– and the numbers will cover your ass. 

Relying on numbers alone is a fool’s game. 

Yes, use numbers to learn, but don’t use them as a crutch for making decisions. All great ideas are leaps of understanding and imagination; they are not made great in continual 1% increments of improving a decent idea over and over, and over again.

You are human. You have experiences, emotions, intellect, and creativity. Those are the tools you need to help communicate with other human beings in meaningful ways.

What is going to pique someone’s interest, spark curiosity or ignite his/her passion about trying your brand? 


I believe the reason so little marketing work today connects emotionally and shines is that it has been incrementally improved to score a number. The life and humanity have been sanitized out of it.

The work is soulless.

You’re a person, not a computer. You are trying to communicate with other people. 

Act more human. And do so 100% of the time.

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