More fun in the Advertising Report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, with an interview of the suggestively named Andrew Puzder. The Journal loves to point out when admen once did something creative and non-soulless in the past, which has the effect of making advertising seem less craven, giving it an ersatz halo of creative integrity. In this case, the dek tells us that Pudzer was a “former rock guitarist,” a fact that is never once elaborated in the story that follows. We don’t hear what band it was, or whether they were successful. For all we know, he may have simply learned to play “Stairway to Heaven” while in high school. The point is, people who read the Advertising Report don’t really care about the validity of his musical career, they just want affirmation that what they do is really, really creative, that admen are really hip, with-it kinds of guys.
Puzder is responsible for the “provocative” and “sensual” (aka sex-driven) Carl’s Jr. ads, the Paris Hilton ad, the ad in which a woman shoves her entire fist in her mouth, etc. These are for “the hoofoos,” men between 18 and 34 who eat a lot of fast food. Puzder insists that “calling it porn in any sense is really unjustified.” Yeah, I don’t know why anyone would think a woman shoving her whole fist into her mouth is pornographic. Those people have their minds in the gutter. And PAris Hilton next to naked? That’s not exploiting libido at all. Nothing porny about that. If you draw the porn line at “nude people doing sex acts” then you exclude a lot of what is sexually exploitative. It seems a pretty useless way to define the pornographic.
The good news in this interview is that Puzder notes that the generation born after 1982 watches far less television than generations previous — these people seem to demand more “interactive” entertainment. However, this is destroying the ad market for television, driving advertisers to become more devious and insidious. TiVo has forced them to concentrate a larger portion of their budget on planting products into shows, into making the content of programming serve advertising purposes (much the way PR people make magazine copy serve their ends). More than ever, ads must vie to become a form of entertainment themselves, worth watching for their own sake. This is why they hype their awards show so much (the Clios), and push to have it covered. This is why the Advertising Report always reminds us what artists the admen are. This is why advertising-supported entertainment and advertisements themselves are converging into one big advertorial heap.