Ad People, Like All People, Are Sometimes Right As Rain

Since it’s a political season, we’ve dedicated a fair bit of space here to political ads and also to what Alan Wolk calls NASCAR blindness. Wolk says, NASCAR blindness is “the strongly held belief that if no one in your little bubble of upscale artsy BoBo friends is into something, then clearly no one else is.”
It’s a topic that the daily (ad) biz picked up on, as well.

…we in advertising are supposed to know the people that we are selling to. We don’t have to be them, obviously, but we need to understand them, know what makes them tick, empathize with them to the point that we can understand them emotional hook that connects them to the brands that we are advertising for. How can we do that if we live in our hipster Manhattan (and Austin and Portland and Boston and Minneapolis…is it any surprise based on these cities that everyone in advertising is a Democrat?) worlds and disdain the rest of America that isn’t us?
Think about it honestly for a second…and yes, most people in advertising actively disdain the Wal*Mart shopping, flyover country living, openly religious people that buy most of the stuff that we sell. Just think about any briefing you have been in, think about that point where the planner starts talking about the target, and think about all of the cracks about said target that you know are coming.
Shame on them for not being upper class urban hipsters!

Well said, Mr. Biz.

I started my agency career in Salt Lake City, so it goes without saying that I worked with and for Republicans. Yet, I recall being shocked some years later when learning that friends and coworkers in Denver were Republicans. “Why?” I wanted to know. Some of them–the smart ones–could tell me. And I respected their reasons, even while holding polar opposite views myself.
When I was in Chicago, no one I knew admitted to being a Republican. But I wasn’t there that long. In time, surely one or two might have emerged. Leaving Chicago for an agency in South Carolina once again brought me to a blood red political environment, where Republicans could be easily located inside the creative department, not to mention account service.
I now live in the BoBo enclave that is Portland, Oregon. It’s nice to be around so many people who share my views, but I wouldn’t trade my experience. We have a saying in this business, “But will it sell in Peoria?” I love that line of questioning. As someone with a lot of packaged goods experience, it’s an important filter to run ideas through. And I feel better prepared than most to answer that question.
How about you? Do you ever ask, and then attempt to answer, the question, “But will it sell in Peoria?”



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.