More Ad People In Politics? It Might Help Us Be Better Ad People

Longtime friend of AdPulp and CEO of The Next Wave, David Esrati, ran again for Congress this year. And he didn’t make it past the primary in his Ohip district. But he thinks more ad people should run for office. Why? Because it’s an eye-opener.

And all those people in marketing and advertising, who have an iPad, smart phone, eat organic, sip latte from Starbucks, has friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter- haven’t actually met mainstream America- up close and personal- like a politician knocking on doors, shaking hands and kissing babies. As an ad man who has, let me share this insight (and remember, I was only knocking on doors of those most likely to vote, because I’d be stupid to knock on every door)- there is a digital divide in this country- where people don’t have computers, don’t use them at work, don’t even have an e-mail address. Our country still is embarrassingly strong in illiteracy (even though we have “no child left behind” we’ve forgotten about all the functionally illiterate people we’ve produced over the last 60 years- the US is 27th out of 205).
Those “consumers” that we know so much about- don’t have health care coverage- so all those direct to consumer drug ads may fall on deaf (and illiterate) ears, they can’t jump online to get a custom video from Mustafa-they don’t time shift shows on their DVR, or order Blu-ray quality video from your streaming server.
What they do have is an increasingly smaller wallet (the economic gap in the United States has grown at an alarming rate thanks to our slick media spinning political types) and a tighter grip on their cash. They may be fooled once, but they won’t be back to buy your body wash twice if they don’t end up with the same magnetic personality of “The man your man could smell like.”

He links to a recent Ad Age article on “Madison Avenue’s Main Street Myopia,” which is a subject Alan Wolk has been writing about for years as well. I’ve touched on it too.
So what’s going on here? Are advertising people more out of touch than ever? Does our increasing digital and social obsession keep us too plugged in and out of touch with our communities and people who aren’t always plugged in? Is there a group of Americans we’re simply not reaching in our quest to find the newest technology and tactics? Or, since Esrati is in Dayton Ohio, as middle America as you can get, is this a big city/coasts vs. smaller city/heartland issue?



About Dan Goldgeier

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. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.