I agree with you, Simon. I spent 38 years in advertising, in all forms, and we’ve seen a tremendous transition away from informative copy to blatant sell. Everything is selling (me included). For years, I tried to convince clients that it’s not enough to just make your intentions known, meaning, “This is what we do, and you really should use us.” What we’ve lost is the ability to “engage.” We used to engage by being interesting, by giving readers a sense that we knew and loved our category. By “loved,” I mean we told people the marvels of the category, whether it was farming or a pill. Clients would nod, then have everything re-written to what they called “sell.” Nothing loses interest like blatant sell, which is why newspapers, magazines and television are all losing readership, viewership and sponsorship. In the 60s, some people loved the commercials more than the programs. A brand like “Red Roses Flour” did brilliant recipes in magazines with stories and excellent photography (for the time). People could see time was devoted to this and it reflected on the product itself. Now it’s just modern-day hucksterism, and it blasts out with no great concern for how it’s interpreted or appreciated. This is why viewership, readership and sponsorship is down. It has nothing to do with social media stealing attention. We lost consumers by expecting interest without doing the work. Now companies are saying, “Maybe we don’t need marketing departments.” Of course they don’t. The greatest damage was—and is—done in marketing. The companies that keep their marketing departments are the same ones who say, “We’re bringing all advertising in-house.” This is beyond foolish—but fools always believe in themselves. It’s a shame, but we’re beyond the point where it’s salvagable. Too bad. Advertising was fun while it lasted.

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I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.

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