Steve Gillmor continues to discuss the Earthlink advertising spot in his show (and name check me as well). Let me boil down my issue, since Steve continues to play a three card monte game with his audience’s concerns. We tell him that we are bored and that the spot sucks. He then shows us a card of “they support us and are mainstream, so isn’t that wonderful?” and goes to throwing the cards. He then characterizes the issue people have as that “the spot isn’t special to the podosphere.” My problem isn’t that it is mainstream advertising in the podosphere, my problem is that it is bad, useless, ineffectual advertising in any medium and any context.
In his recent Gillmor Dailies, Steve entreats us to listen to the spot. Now I’ve skipped it dozens of times because I feel it makes me temporarily dumber when I hear it, and I fear repeated exposure may make it permanent. Nonetheless I gave it a shot, and even typed up the text verbatim. Here is the transcript of that spot:
Do you believe anything is possible? We do. We’re Earthlink. We believe in an internet that is safe from viruses and scammers. We’re Earthlink. We believe your personal information should be just that — personal. And we believe your internet should be a friend not a foe. We’re Earthlink. Make the smart choice. Visit earthlink.net and discover what our internet experts can do for you. Earthlink – we revolve around you.
Now read that copy carefully. See a problem? How about this – we don’t know what the fucking product is! We’re told to go to their website and find out more information, and as far as I can tell the thing they have to offer is a care-free internet. Fantastic. For those who already have that or don’t buy into the vague fear-mongering, there ain’t much else to hang our hat on.
I’m not really in the market for dialup. Is that what they are selling? I don’t know. Now the question on the floor is “why should I care?” If they can’t be bothered to tell me that in their allotted time and sublet attention, no chance I’m going to pursue this.
Steve, I’ve been listening to you talk about the importance of attention for over a year now. To hear you ignore the clearest metadata you can get — being directly told that your audience hates something you play — I really wonder what the whole deal is about anymore. Why is some widget collecting my clicks going to mean anything more to you than what I communicate to you directly? If you ignore that, what is any of it good for?
I’m happy Earthlink supports you and the deal is good for you. Now, fill that 30 seconds with something worthy of the time of your audience and the storybook closes with “happily ever after.” The one kind of advertising I absolutely can’t stomach is that kind that when it’s done, I don’t know what I’m being sold. That’s exactly what this is. At least when the CGI polar bears cavort, they hold up a bottle of Coca-Cola so I know what I’m being asked to buy. We aren’t even getting that much. What a waste of good attention.