Ads were a necessary evil that powered important work. That was the relationship, as we understood it, between fiction and non.
For a while, we thought ads were an elaborate (but necessary) bait-and-switch. They kept the lights on in the background so truth-warriors and reporters could do their important work keeping the stakeholders of a democracy informed.
We grew used to that rhythm. Three pages of news, followed by one page of “for-a-limited-time-only!” But today, we’re learning more problems with it.
For example: can two diametrically opposed philosophies coexist for the same goal?
Reporters regularly uncover truths in direct conflict with advertisers’ interests. Advertisers regularly convince reporters to take business-friendly angles.
It’s kind of like spying on the neighbor, only to learn they’re spying on you. Like, then what?
This brings us back to the fight-or-flight response. And let’s not forget the third option we penciled in: dance. Dancing means we don’t run away from the new thing we don’t understand yet. Dancing means we welcome it and we turn the problem into the solution.
What’s that mean? To put it another way, that means instead of hiding behind the curtain to create the Wizard of Oz, we think it’d be infinitely more interesting to tell the real story.
What kind of madman in the Land of Oz would attempt such a thing?
If you let it be, the real truth is a lot richer, more important and more fascinating than the Disney-fied version.
The solution? Admit we’re doing performance art. More often than not, your clients need to hear the opposition's best argument in order to begin trusting yours, so don't do yourself the disservice of making it hard to find.
Time to hand the microphone to the person who’s actually talking.
Time to stop hiring middlemen to mix oil and water and instead, bottle yours straight from the source. Sure, people will still drink oily water if they're thirsty enough. But one taste of pure spring water corrects that behavior in a heartbeat.
Because at the end of the day, consumers wonder one thing: what’s the catch?
Could be you.