Dear ad world: Stop biting the hand that feeds you

Kyle Acquistapace is partner and director of data & media, Deutsch LA

I was recently stuck in an airport with a handful of ad people and we started talking about our favorite TV shows. Predictably, this TV conversation led to a TV advertising conversation, which inevitably resulted in this familiar refrain:

“Oh, I never watch the ads anymore.”

This comment was spoken in the same tone that somebody might use to brag, “Oh, we stopped eating baby harp seal nuggets years ago. Haven’t you?” Let me remind you, these are ad people talking, which makes the comment the poster-child for hypocrisy and irony (irocrisy?). Sadly, this ad-bashing from ad-people isn’t rare; no doubt we all have joined the chorus before. In full disclosure, my own family is guilty: my 13-year old announced the other night that she ‘hates the commercials’ while watching some regrettable tween show.

After my rage-seizure subsided, I gave her a version of the same lecture I am about to give you (minus the threats to take away your cell phone away until prom): Those ads support our careers and our lives. Advertising puts a roof over our heads, braces on our kids’ teeth and by and large provides for a pretty good life for most of us. The least we could do is watch the damn ads the way nature intended them to be watched – without resorting to a DVR. And this isn’t just about TV: it wouldn’t hurt us to try and find something nice to say about banner ads, branded content and billboards once in a while.

The heart of my argument is rooted in an old fashioned notion of ‘hey, be a company guy.’ This seems to be the normal POV in most other industries. Professionals in the car industry don’t run around talking about how much cars suck. And did your mom work at Tasty O’s Cereal Corp when you were growing up? Then I bet you ate Tasty O’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and liked it. Your family towed the line and supported the industry that paid the light bill, because that is common sense and the grateful thing to do.

Perhaps my argument of blind-faith and unyielding loyalty is a bit blunt. I get it. There are still plenty of reasons why we should stop publicly talking about ads like they are a small dose of polio. To wit:

Advertising drives business growth.
A recent ANA study found that for every dollar spent on advertising, nearly $22 of economic output is generated. It also found that “every $1 million spent on annual advertising expenses supports 81 American jobs.”

Advertising drives original content.
Are you obsessed with “Empire” or “Broad City?” Do your kids love Nickelodeon? Do you obsessively read HuffPo or The Onion? If you are an entertainment junkie then you should thank your lucky stars that brands believe in the power of mass media and ad-supported free content.

I know that some of you believe we are just a microcosm of the population and that the problem isn’t just us, but all consumers. That’s only partially true.  And even if it were 100 percent true, we still have an obligation to be vocal cheerleaders for our industry. We are in the business of producing and selling advertisements; cursing the very ads and media landscape we support seems to miss that point.

Let’s espouse our love for the ads and remind the world about the awesome entertainment-contract that promises pretty good stuff to watch and read in exchange for your attention for a brief moment.  We have to be the last bastion of wide-eyed support for a wonderful industry that’s been pretty kind to us. Let’s stop biting the hand that feeds us and proudly watch, click and read those ads.

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