19 March 2002

I’ve been reading a bit about advertising today, and was struck by an interesting contrast in these letters to Advertising Age. Near the top (letter dates 13 March 2002) is a reprint of Leo Burnett’s marvelous farewell speech to his company in 1967 — honorable, wise, and really a testament to what is good in that strange industry. Scroll a little further down, though, and you find (on 20 February 2002) something from yet another ad schmucky with the jones to Brand America.” What Leo could tell Schmucky is that America is already branded, and by the kind of horrible “advertising” that made Leo B. threaten to come back from the dead to take his name off the company door if need be. The connection may not be immediately clear, but it’s worth your meditating on for a minute.

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19 March 2002

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