The Path To Empathy

If you believe talking heads on TV, empathy is a bad thing for a Supreme Court justice to have.
It’s a must-have to be good in advertising:

In advertising agencies, empathy–in this case, the ability to understand an audience–is a skill, just like Photoshop prowess. It needs to be learned and honed for effective marketing. And yes, it should be an advantage for someone in advertising, at hiring time and on the job, if they come from a different background or upbringing than the majority of their co-workers. If creative people are judged by their unique talent, a unique background should be held in positive regard as well.
And let’s face it, ad people are a fairly homogenous lot: College-educated, white-collar, urban dwelling, working behind computers in well-lit, clean offices. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how many people in the world don’t fit that description. If you want a more accurate cross-section of humanity, go to the DMV or the security line at the airport. Might not be pretty, but it’s our audience.

It’s the subject of my new column on Talent Zoo.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. just a note:
    because i like to reward improvement when i see it.
    I have been to the bmv (it is a bureau in indiana) about five times over the past three years. My state has vastly improved the quality of its service and its friendliness. It is a clean and bright facility. If it wasn’t cheaper to renew online, i’d probably go there again this month, but I’ll use the five bucks that i saved for my groceries today.

  2. Nancy–I’ve had good experiences with the workings of the Georgia DMV as well. I was talking about the type of people standing in line there.

  3. but there are not so many people standing in line anymore. and the changes in service have changed the attitude of people in the chairs waiting who are more often than not parents waiting to take their kids out for lunch after they reach their achievement of passing the test…and not disgruntled customers.
    i know what you were saying. i am just saying that reference of the dmv is no longer so valid and maybe the reference of weirdos hiding behind screens is.
    oh yea the us post office maybe thars a good refernce. they still have big gaps in satisfaction here in my area.