Grizzled Sisyphus, it is fair to say, did not make merry. Homer recounts in “The Odyssey” that his occupation would make your most exasperating workplace drudgery seem like an early-summer stroll down the Croisette:
And I saw Sisyphus at his endless task raising his prodigious stone with both his hands. With hands and feet he tried to roll it up to the top of the hill, but always, just before he could roll it over on to the other side, its weight would be too much for him, and the pitiless stone would come thundering down again on to the plain. Then he would begin trying to push it up hill again, and the sweat ran off him and the steam rose after him.
That’s about all we know about this mythological figure, whose tedious eternal punishment has for centuries unnerved readers. And in these short, dark,early-winter days, advertisers and publishers can easily see some of Sisyphus’ plight in their own trials. Digiday, for example, regularly reports on advertisers who put a lot of work into a campaign and, at the end of the day, have little assurance of its effectiveness. They stand on the hill with Sisyphus and watch, mouths agape, the stone tumble down to the plain. When the campaign is finished, they trudge on down and take up the next stone.
Others are frustrated in their attempts to find a way to adequately measure the effectiveness of new forms of technology. An anthem for digital media — or a subtitle to Digiday’s reporting — could be: How much should companies invest in advertising methods that cannot be adequately measured? Answers are invariably less than satisfying.
If you feel like Sisyphus more than you’d like to admit, take heart, for the French novelist and essayist Albert Camus wrote in the 1940s that we all have a bit of Sisyphus in us. Sisyphus represents human beings in the modern world. The argument starts with the premise that life is absurd because we are thrown into a situation, namely, life, where we desire to impose understanding and clarity on an irrational world. Too often, people go to extremes in confronting this problem: They either give in to the world’s irrationality (e.g., nihilists) or they become all the more resolute in imposing their ideas the world (e.g., most people). Camus maintains that both options are bound to fail.
The solution, such as it is, to the absurd condition of life is to simply become conscious of its absurdity. Once we acknowledge that the world is fundamentally at odds with our calculating minds, we can begin to live honestly. Camus believes that success is a matter of persisting without believing we will ever resolve the ambiguities that make up our lives. We exhibit courage in continually acknowledging our failures and plugging along in spite of them.
And so Sisyphus is a hero, not only for advertisers but for everybody living in the modern world. He is conscious of his absurd condition and can, therefore, not be entirely subject to it. Camus writes, “The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory.” The victory is perhaps meager, but Camus believes it’s the most anyone could wish for in a world that is so opposed to our desire for order and control.
If you feel anxiety about your campaign’s metrics or the fuzziness of ROI this holiday season, find solace in the example of Sisyphus. Reject the false promise of clear understanding or evasive platitudes. Instead, embrace the absurdity of life, and keep persisting with a clear mind in tasks that have no certain outcome. And if your clients or co-workers are growing uneasy with the hazy metrics in a campaign, a holiday gift of Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus,” available in translation and in paperback, may be just the thing.
Digiday+ Research: Instagram wins over Facebook for role in brands’ holiday marketing
Brands differ on how they use each marketing channel during the holidays -- even when it comes to sibling social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, Digiday+ Research found.
How — and why — Candy Crush is in the midst of a 10th anniversary brand refresh
In the years since Activision Blizzard acquired the Swedish game studio King in 2016, employees at the gaming giant have started to internally refer to their company as “ABK” — that is, Activision Blizzard King. But the corporation’s recent financial reports indicate that “KAB” might be a more accurate abbreviation.
Independent agency Goat invests in influencer strategy for clients as it expands in the U.S.
Everyone is after influencers to up their marketing game. But the secret to success, Goat contends, is in viewing influencers as performance media and using data to deliver clients guaranteed outcomes.
SponsoredHow brands are measuring incremental performance on CTV
Connected TV is unique among other advertising channels because it combines linear television’s storytelling capabilities with digital marketing’s targeting and measurement. As more marketers leverage CTV advertisements to reach relevant and engaged audiences, they also want to understand the real value they are generating with their investment. Incrementality reporting and measurement allow advertisers to measure […]
Marketers bring Web3 to the FIFA World Cup with augmented reality, NFTs and virtual worlds
The month-long tournament, which begins this weekend, will be the first World Cup since it took place in Russia in 2018 long before “Web3” entered the global lexicon. Now, official and non-official sponsors are hoping to harness the hype with a range of NFTs, virtual worlds, augmented reality tools and other trendy tech.
U-Haul diversifies its social strategy to tell people it’s more than moving trucks
In recent years, U-Haul's in-house agency has been working to "better leverage social media for brand loyalty."