The premise sounds pretty cool – they flash back to the year 2011 and look at the ad agencies and media companies of the day and – full of anachronisms and the seemingly bizarre behavior of the day.
Like the current Mad Men series, it will have infidelity and corporate infighting, but what will make the show special will be those flashbacks to 2011. No, I’m not speaking of the retro fashions. And it’s not the fossil fuels that powered their cars then, but rather the fact that the leaders of the agencies of 2011 themselves seemed like dinosaurs.
In the pilot movie, they’ll open with a scene at a large media conference. CEOs of various media and agency companies will be discussing their use of social media. Here are a few of the gaglines you’ll hear:
Maurice Levy, Chairman of mega agency Publicis will be asked about whether he uses Twitter, to which he’ll reply:
"I understand how to wash dishes. I don't do it regularly"
[queue laugh track]
Hachette’s Arnaud Norry will eagerly chime in:
"I think communicating with text only with a very limited way of expression is not my style"
The scene ends with several media leaders openly ogling the shapely rear-end of one of the agency associates while one slowly exhales cigarette smoke. Oh, wait, that was a commercial for a Herman Cain campaign ad from the same year.
If only these were punchlines from some future retro show. In fact, they were real quotes coming out of this week’s Reuters Global Media Summit. The fact that major media executives can still be so dismissive of social media is sad. More than anything, it shows a complete lack of understanding that the current display advertising model no longer works.
“…display ads online are the wrong metaphor. They come from a construct where web services were viewed as "pages" - magazine pages. They were invented by applying an old model (magazines) onto a new medium (web services) and assuming that the user is a "reader" and will accept being interrupted. Over time, the web has proven both these paradigms to be untrue in a truly profound way.”
Would Levy hire a practice leader for Publicis who has never worked in advertising but has "watched plenty of commericals on television"? More importantly, would a client allow Publicis to assign them an account planner who had never worked in the agency business nor ever used the client's products and services?
What media and agency executives still seem to miss is that social media is not just another publishing platform. Twitter is not about pushing out 140 character headlines. It's about engagement and you can't understand engagement by simply watching someone else do it.