Friday, November 19, 2010

Want more of Joe's thoughts on integrity? Why not book a ride-along!

I can't even begin to know what to make of this piece, which is, first, a tribute to advertising legend Bruce Barton and, second, a treatise on the importance of integrity in marketing. So far so good. Barton, cofounder of the legendary BBDO agency and thus a revered figure from Madison Avenue's halcyon days, was known for his highly humanized, emotionally evocative ads. The article quotes one of his most famous ad lines, used in a 1935 campaign for U.S. Steel: Barton wrote of immigrant-cum-magnate Andrew Carnegie, "He came to a land of wooden towns...and left a nation of steel." Today, the billion-dollar agency that Barton helped launch shapes the public personas of AT&T, Bank of America, P&G and Campbell, among other notables.

The problem is that the author here, Marilyn Much, anchors her piece in the wisdom of our boy Joe Vitale, clearly setting him up as an unimpeachable authority on integrity in marketing. As Bill Clinton might once have put it, I shit you not. ... Joe Vitale, of the $5000 Rolls ride-alongs? ("There are people who think I should charge a lot more than that," he told ABC's Dan Harris) ... Joe Vitale, who promised buyers untold riches in The Secret and then, when the Universe responded by crashing the economy, belatedly offered to sell us the missing secret from The Secret? ... Joe Vitale, who hyped the Law of Attraction, then his pet moneymaker, by implying that a lack of positivity was what cost some San Diegans their homes in the terrible wildfires of '07? ... Joe Vitale, who gave the world such unforgettables as h'onoponogonorrhea and the $39 "make-a-wish" sticker? ... That Joe Vitale? ...

Somehow I think that Barton, who died in 1967, would not especially appreciate being featured in this context. Interestingly enough, the author herself ends the piece as follows:

Barton wrote in a 1925 essay: "I believe the public has a sixth sense for detecting insincerity, and we run a tremendous risk if we try to make other people believe in something we don't believe in. Somehow our sin will find us out."
Those of us who've been fighting the good fight against the lords of SHAM can only hope and pray.


Speaking of integrity in advertising, or the lack of same.... We appear to have a large contingent of tekkies among the SHAMblog faithful, so you folks are probably aware of this alreadybut just in case, here's an article on why "4G," that term bandied ubiquitously in today's cell phone ads, basically means nothing. By the way, gotta love the writer's name: Wailin Wong.


Dimension Skipper said...

I swear when I first read "tekkies" I read it as "trekkies." No doubt my aging Vulcan eyes playing tricks on me. Might be time for those Borg-tech 4G retinal implants, but for now I'm sticking wih my silica-based external binary vision assist device.

When I first noticed the terms 3G nd 4G being bandied about in advertising (probably about a year ago though I don't know if 4G was out there yet) I googled it to find out what it meant. I was immediately underwhelmed at the fuzzineess of the term and remain so.

I'm also reminded of HD wars in advertising... I know at one point a certain cable giant was saying they offered the most HD programming and a certain satellite provider was bragging about how they (and I don't recall the specific phrasing, but it amounted to...) would be offering more HD programming at some point hopefully in the near future. (Sorry I can't be more definitive.) The way they worded it sounded impressive, but I remember thinking, "Oh, so at some point down the road you will be offering more HD programs... So? Whatcha got NOW?"

What companies and advertisers need these days are good fact-checkers and editors to strip out the overblown hype, nonsense, overly restrictive restrictions, and impressive sounding, but meaningless generalities. Of course, then we'd be left with this:


(And I'm OK with that!)

Cosmic Connie said...

Well, I have a confession to make. "The Seven Lost Secrets of Success" was one of Joe Vitale's earlier works that I kind of liked. It was first published in 1992, back when he and I were friends, and I provided moral support through the process. (Yes, I know. Don't give me a hard time about it, please. :-)) I thought there was some good material in the book, and Joe did actually spend time researching Barton's life and work.

But as for the matter of integrity... well, in retrospect, it does seem kind of ironic, in light of Joe's more recent contributions. I have a copy of the first edition of Seven Lost Secrets, in which Joe boasted about a winning sales letter he wrote for a guy who later turned out to be a sex predator. In the first edition he used the guy's real name, but in subsequent editions the boasting remained but he used the pseudonym "Jonathan Jacobs." (He detailed "Jonathan's" shenanigans in a "shocking" story in The Attractor Factor.)

Just a little ancient history to provide some perspective...

Steve Salerno said...

Connie: Thanks for the history lesson. (I don't mean for that to sound snide.) However, the author of the piece is writing it today, which I think makes a difference. No?

Cosmic Connie said...

Steve: Yes, it does make a huge difference that the piece you cited is a current one, which is why I added that bit about integrity and irony in my second paragraph. :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Connie: Oh yeah? Well so there!

(And I have absolutely no idea why I said that or what it means.)

Anonymous said...

According to the last line on the article the piece is 5 years old:

"This story originally ran Nov. 2, 2005, on Leaders & Success."

Perhaps Joe suffered from rather more integrity then but has since recovered, no doubt due to his exposure to The Secret, or maybe his exposure in The Secret?

Cosmic Connie said...

Good catch, Anon Nov. 19. I overlooked it the first time around because, I confess, I didn't click on page 2, where the info about the original pub date of the article appears.

However, knowing the history as I do, I would say that the integrity angle was just as ironic in 2005 as it is now, even though the article was published before The Secret became a big hit. (Shooting of The Secret was done in July and August of 2005, and it was released in March of 2006.)

Steve Salerno said...

Connie: I don't know. If you read this... sounds like Joe's "hypnotic marketing" insights, and all the nonsense that flowed from same, were already well into development when The Secret came along. The funny part is, his description of his success formula almost sounds like a pyramid scheme even when he himself describes it!

Cosmic Connie said...

I must be slipping in my ability to communicate. I am actually in agreement with you, Steve, re Mr. Fire's integrity or lack thereof. I was merely acknowledging Anon's point that the article you cited was originally written in 2005. However, I added that the integrity/Mr. Fire correlation was just as ironic in 2005 as it is today. I only added the bit about the filming date of The Secret to add more "historical" perspective. I may have only succeeded in muddling my message.

I was really just trying to make the point to Anon that it wasn't The Secret that compromised Joe's integrity. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear.

Steve Salerno said...

Connie: Ok, let's settle the matter; we're both slipping. I guess what I was trying to say is that we shouldn't pin the beginning of Joe's "downslide" to the release of The Secret. Seems to me he's been pretty--downslid?--all along. But it sounds like you basically agree with me. Or I agree with you. Or I agree with me. Or we both agree with ourselves. Which is a good thing, because that's not often the case. ;)

RevRon's Rants said...

Doesn't one have to achieve some degree of "up-ness" prior to going through an ethical downslide? Granted, my personal knowledge of Joe only goes back about 17 years, but I see little difference between the way he operates now and how he operated then (other than the number of zeros in his brags, that is).