A Few Pearls of Wisdom about Ad World Philosophy

Article excerpt

This is my 50th Marketing column. You may react to that momentous news by thinking: "Is that all? The boring fart has been wittering on forever and a day and never has anything to say. Enough already!" Or, as I would naturally hope: "Gosh! It seems only yesterday I read his utterly brilliant first piece - doesn't time fly when you're reading a fun column?". Or, most probable response of all: "Who gives a toss?"

That being the case, and as Peter Mandelson refused to commemorate my very nearly millennial anniversary by building even a tiny domelet outside the Groucho, I have decided to celebrate the event by handing this 50th column to others. To be precise, I have given it over to half-a-dozen notable quotes about advertising. (But as it's my anniversary, I won't be able to resist putting my own spoke in).

"Advertising is the rattling of a stick in the swill basket of capitalism"(George Orwell, Keep The Aspidistra Flying). Orwell, who detested advertising - and capitalism - intended this aphorism to be a fierce denunciation. It isn't. On the contrary, it is accurate and flattering. From the animals' point of view the stick rattling in the bucket tells them grub's up, and that's good news. So is most advertising.

"An advertising agency is 15% commission and 85% confusion" (Comedian Fred Allen). The thought is right, but the figures are now old hat.

"Half my advertising is wasted, but I don't know which half." This twaddle is usually attributed to the first Lord Leverhulme, but almost definitely came from the American publisher Adolph S. …