Surely, Ads Can Still Influence Popular Culture

When the news of Leslie Nielsen’s death spread last week, it spread quickly. And pretty soon, everyone was sharing their favorite quotes from “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun.”
Will we ever see a time again when mass culture is shared so much? Can advertising, which has played its role in the culture, be a part of it?

For most, advertising is disposable popular culture. But it can always be something more. We all want to do that thing – a commercial, catchphrase, tagline, viral video, game, etc., – that gets everyone talking. If the goal is no longer to make that mark on the culture, then we’ll lose something special. And we’ll lose some powerful reminders of how big an influence we can be.

Our industry is still focused on making culture and new forms of it. But as we do that, we also run the risk of making it smaller and losing our place in the popular culture. I’d love to see advertising remain something people talk about on a large scale, or something that makes the news. I’d love to see the best of our work be as beloved as a Leslie Nielsen quote, talked about long past its initial launch. We’ve got a 50/50 chance of making it happen. Though there’s only a 10 percent chance of that.

It’s the subject of my new column on Talent Zoo, which will be on the site’s home page Thursday.
Our friend, Vinny Warren, if you’re out there, I’d love to get your take on this. You popularized “Wassup?” In a huge way. Do you think you could still do it in 2010’s media world?



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.