Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Ad Cliches & Awakening America's Creative Coma with Lee Abrams

Recently I had the honor of meeting American Media Executive Lee Abrams at the Arbiton Client Conf/Jacobs Media Summit. I actually opened for him, true story, or least I spoke right before him. Lee has held a number of posts for large and influential companies, and is generally credited with developing the "Album Oriented Rock" format employed by hundreds of radio stations across the country. Most recently he was the chief innovation officer for the Tribune Company but prior to that founded XM Satellite Radio and ran notable radio consulting company Burkhart/Abrams; served as an internal consultant for ABC Radio, and helped develop nationwide radio formats such as Z-Rock and Radio Disney.  Additionally, he has been involved on the recording side of the music industry, producing Ah Via Musicom for guitar virtuoso Eric Johnson and appearing on several Alan Parsons Project CDs. He has also consulted and even managed such notable acts such as Yes, The Moody Blues, Steve Winwood, Iron Maiden, Bob Seger and EMI Records.
He shared something he wrote that was just a "think piece" for him but I was impressed and asked if it was ok to share with the world...maybe inspire others to as he says "AFDI".


Christmas 2010 PC Out of Control:  Not calling it Christmas as that word offends people.  Help.

For 2011,  here are  four missing links in the majority of media products:
PASSION--An energy and style in the thinking and presentation of a product  that permeates everything it touches...and on 2010 terms.  Many if not most  products that are geared to invoke emotions... are passionless. Services and utilities.  The passion component adds soul to a product that elevates it beyond a  corporate perception right down to the heart and street level.  To the main street Joe Citizen,  a corporate (elite and not friendly to an average citizen) perception is not a good thing in terms of most media related products.  Many companies get this and "try" to inject passion,  but the BS radar of the North American public is WAY to savvy to not see through that.  You cannot create passion through a marketing slogan.  You cannot create passion by wordsmithing it..it needs to be in the DNA of the culture,  and that is sadly missing from American business...media in particular.  BP is a classic non media case.  As if anyone actually buys the "we're sorry and we're fixing it" testimonials.  TV News?  How can EVERY station be "first, best, on your side and in it for you?"  Passion is apparently limited to passion for the numbers and results,  whereas the numbers and results will be BIGGER if that passion is focused on what the public sees hears and touches first.

CHARACTER--An attitude that is devoid of BS and has,  well....character.  Not manufactured character according to the research results...but authenticity that is unimpeachable.  Again,  can't focus group your way into attitude and character.  Character is that magic "it" that some have,  some don't and some will never understand. Character can be generated by a personality...a graphic presentation...a noticeable lack of hype...just about anything. Most often it's EVERYthing.  A completeness that some companies have,  but most don't.

MUSCLE---Big can be good...or bad. Good when it's driven by passion and character and connection...bad when it's driven by what the public perceives as greed and/or an ivory tower disassociation from the streets. Your local cable company has muscle...probably the bad kind.  The New York Yankees have muscle and if you're a Yankee fan---it's the GOOD kind.

...Then there's AFDI (write me if you don't know what that means.)
Look at most any company's mission statement. Total baloney. A recent visit to a TV station had their "mission" on the wall, it said things like:

ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF NEW CONTENT INNOVATION (huh? where?...looks like EVERY other station to me)

COMMITTED TO SERVING THE COMMUNITY (Is that why you eliminated your community service position?)

DEEP INVESTIGATIVE AND CREDIBLE NEWS (Then why is the anchor a former Miss County with no journalism experience or passion beyond what an anchor spot will do to their modelling career)

BELIEVABILITY AND INTEGRITY (Then why are all of your slogans over focus grouped marketing lies?--harsh but they ARE lies)

ORIGINALITY (Where!!???)


Then the rest of the "mission" looked right out of a Cub Scout manual...how kind and wonderful their intentions are.

I asked five managers on the staff if they believed this....EVERY one said something like "are you joking...no way..."

This stuff is EVERYwhere...and people seem to want to change....but don't.

Then, go to an industry gathering---It's laden with too much denial, some arrogance and fortunately some big thinking----but will there be AFDI? Probably not.

It's all about BALANCE: Intense and brilliant Finance, Technical, Sales, Operations...and PRODUCT PASSION/CHARACTER & MUSCLE....with zero BS. AFDI. Delivering. That balance can be unstoppable. No one is immune. But for every Apple there are 10,000 companies living in some 1980's dream world...pretending.

OK--on the positive side: It's there for the taking. Americas creative coma can be awoken by those willing to LEAD, step out and....AFDI

In 1993, Newsweek listed Abrams as one of America’s “100 Cultural Elite” for his contributions to creating modern day radio. Abrams joined XM in June 1998 to help create the next generation of radio: satellite direct radio. With 150 stations to develop and program, Abrams is once again challenged to reinvigorate the radio landscape. As a founding partner of Burkhart/Abrams, he invented and built the first successful FM format, Album Rock. In 1989, Abrams joined ABC Networks as an internal consultant and was instrumental in the launch of many top Morning Radio shows, including Howard Stern.

No comments:

Post a Comment