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All I wanted and all Neal wanted and all anybody wanted was some kind of penetration into the heart of things where, like in a womb, we could curl up and sleep the ecstatic sleep that Burroughs was experiencing with a good big mainline shot of M. and advertising executives in NY were experiencing with twelve Scotch & Sodas in Stouffers before they made the drunkard's train to Westchester—but without hangovers.
Give advertising time. That is the thing that it needs most. The advertising agency is the most precious infant among the professions. Is it fair to expect perfection in a profession that counts only a single generation to its credit? We are learning. I see no reason why advertising agencies, too, should not outlive their founders and the successors of their founders, growing wiser with each generation and gathering a priceless possession of recorded experience.
Where do babies come from? Don't bother asking adults. They lie like pigs. However, diligent independent research and hours of playground consultation have yielded fruitful, if tentative, results. There are several theories. Near as we can figure out, it has something to do with acting ridiculous in the dark. We believe it is similar to dogs when they act peculiar and ride each other. This is called "making love". Careful study of popular song lyrics, advertising catch-lines, TV sitcoms, movies, and T-Shirt inscriptions offers us significant clues as to its nature. Apparently it makes grown-ups insipid and insane. Some graffiti was once observed that said "sex is good." All available evidence, however, points to the contrary.
.. it [painting art] has never been so truly realistic, so firmly attached to its own period as it is today. A kind of painting that is realistic in the highest sense is beginning to appear, and it is here today... The advertising billboard, dictated by modern commercial needs, that brutally cuts across a landscape.... this yellow or red poster shouting in a timid landscape, is the best of possible reasons for the new painting; it topples the whole sentimental literary concept and announces the advent of plastic contrast.
Advertising is criticized on the ground that it can manipulate consumers to follow the will of the advertiser. The weight of evidence denies this ability. Instead, evidence supports the position that advertising, to be successful, must understand or anticipate basic human needs and wants and interpret available goods and services in terms of their want-satisfying abilities. This is the very opposite of manipulation.
You could argue people are generally better off now mentally than they were back then. We follow the natural cycles. We eat real food instead of processed crap full of chemicals. We're not jacked up on coffee and television and sexy advertising all the time. No more anxiety about credit card bills.
In fast-moving, progress-conscious America, the consumer expects to be dizzied by progress. If he could completely understand advertising jargon he would be badly disappointed. The half-intelligibility which we expect, or even hope, to find in the latest product language personally reassures each of us that progress is being made: that the pace exceeds our ability to follow.
I had a special project to do a campaign for a Philadelphia politician named Arlen Spector (sic). When do I get to see Arlen Spector? I asked. You don't. Spector was a district attorney in Philadelphia, running for mayor. He wanted New York advertising but he had placed through a Philadelphia agency. I complained about not being able to see Arlen Spector. Are you crazy? his people said. Nobody gets to meet Arlen Spector. We can't even see him. All right, I said, what's Arlen Spector for? Arlen Spector is for getting elected. All right, I said, what's Arlen Spector against? Arlen Spector is against losing. I did the campaign, but Arlen Spector lost.