Workin’ for a Living

Labor Day 2020

As our pandemic summer nears its end I’m grateful that the people I know and care about are safe and healthy. And I’m thankful to be working when so many are not.

Here in the US we celebrate working with a last weekend of ease. And what’s Continue reading


A Good Job in the City

A Big Life (in Advertising)
Mary Wells Lawrence

big-lifeFall, it seems, exists so I can renew myself. I know, the light is dying, the sky is more likely to be gray than blue and the nip in the air will soon turn to unwelcome arctic blasts. Why that seems to turn me back to the literature of my trade will have to remain a mystery.

Enough about me, let’s talk about Mary. Continue reading

Food for the Thinkers

Young_A-TECHNIQUEA Technique for Producing Ideas
James Webb Young

Like everyone, okay, like many people I know, there are days when I doubt the choices I’ve made. I’m talking about the big choices and among the biggest is what I’ve chosen to do to earn my bread.

On the best of days–and oh how I wish there were more of those–I’m pretty certain I could have made another choice. But I’m also pretty certain that the Continue reading

When Bad Things Happen to Good Scholars

Plenitude: The Economics of True Wealth
Juliet B. Schor

Plenitude_FNL_cvrMaybe it’s an east coast thing.

The United States, unlike most countries in Europe (and maybe the world), has 3 capitals: the political one (DC), the financial one (NY) and the cultural one (split between NY for publishing, news and ‘high’ culture and LA for entertainment). Since the only one on the west coast focuses on a product for the masses I can imagine that a scholar there finds it easier to ignore.

If that supposition is correct then the east coast is the place where scholars risk being seduced by the bright lights of the ‘public intellectual’ industry. I think there must be an entire army of publishing and TV news functionaries who do nothing but troll campuses from Virgina to Continue reading

Another Zyman? Yes!

I love dichotomies. Black/white, buyer/non-buyer, responded/did not respond. You can argue that such categorizing is an oversimplifcation of reality. And you might be right.

The defining question of my marketing career has been, “What are we getting for the money?” I first heard it in the mid-1980s as the most junior member of a corporate ad team. After all the talk of impressions and rating points and reach and frequency and the Continue reading

Numbers and Words

As a response marketer, I’ve been up to my ears in numbers since I got into the business. Math has become so important to what I do  that I went back to school to ladle on more.

That’s why I’m particularly attuned to what people do with numbers. If you read my last post you know I don’t agree with Rio Longacre. Our philosophical and executional differences aside, his post provides a beautiful illustration of what happens when you take the easier way out with numbers.

I’m a big believer in stating one’s biases upfront. Here’s one: when speaking Continue reading

Words and Numbers

In the beginning, there was the word. And if Einstein’s right and mathematics was the language used to  create the universe, then numbers, too, function as words. So let’s spend some time with a post by Rio Longacre over at Target Marketing and look at words and numbers that just don’t add up for me.

The post ‘s subject is the coming transition of marketing leadership from Baby Continue reading

The Consumer Isn’t a Moron

Treasure Hunt: Inside the Mind of the New Consumer
Michael J. Silverstein

When I started this experiment my intention was to give equal weight to things I spend my time on (and so might know something about). I should’ve  known better.

The reality is that I spend very little time reading about marketing even though it’s how I make my living. There are a lot of reasons for that and maybe, someday, we’ll go into them. Today, though Continue reading

Is the Social Network Really just a Social Utility?

What a difference an IPO makes.

Tuesday brought news that 80% of Facebook users have never made a purchase because of an ad or comment on the site. This is just the latest bit of news to tarnish the once-golden site of our time. As part of the IPO process we learned about the anemic revenues generated per user. The same poll that showed lack of buying indicated users were spending less time on the site. And we’d already seen that males were spending their online time elsewhere.

Can it all just be sour grapes?

Well, maybe. But I think what’s really going on is something that’s been seen before, namely the maturing of a channel or technology. Continue reading

Talent and Vendors: A Response to Seth Godin

I want to expand on a discussion I joined yesterday on LinkedIn. A colleague shared a link to a post on Seth Godin’s blog entitled Talent and Vendors. The subject ought to be near and dear to anyone who works with designers, writers, illustrators or any of the other folks who create marketing campaigns.

Here’s how Godin starts: Continue reading