John Singleton, “How the whores pretend to be nuns,”
Nation Review, August 27-September 2, 1976, p. 1116.
Whenever two or three are under attack you will find that some two or three will always gather together in the hope that the rock will hit someone else.
This is known as the law of association, conference, committee and scared shitless. And because the advertising industry cops the occasional rock it is only natural that it huddles together even more than most, as follows:
1. The advertisers. These are the lovely people who spend all the money. They are known in the trade as clients and most clients have employees who are known as advertising managers. They have very little to do and therefore are keen to huddle together as often as possible to keep warm and also to have someone to talk to.
Naturally anyone who is halfway important in any decent client company figures advertising is a wank in any event and therefore the ad managers who finish up on this association of advertisers are normally nonentities and have no say over their company’s policies in any event.
Therefore this particular association (AANA) has as many meetings as possible to decide as little as possible which is as harmless as possible as is also all okay as far as I am concerned.
2. The media. They run the show. If anyone wants to advertise it is a great help to have somewhere to run the advertisement. And naturally the media is not made up of too many people. There are a couple of TV and radio stations which are licensed by the government to print money. And also a couple of adventurers who print newspapers and magazines instead of money; and when I say instead I really mean instead.
And because they are so few they are in a pretty strong position and are also pretty anxious that the people who book the ads are better than ten to one to pay their bills.
So naturally the media huddles together and calls itself a council and does its best to make life unbearable for all concerned. So at least the media mostly get paid and at least most of the agencies know a photograph from a drawing which is very handy knowledge indeed.
And those agencies who are fortunate enough to pass the media council test get to keep 10 percent of the cost of the time or space as their commission. And retailers, who don’t use agencies but can pay their bills anyway, get a 10 percent cheaper rate than anyone else and everyone is happy.
So naturally the trade practices wackers waste a whole lot of time and our money to change the rules which will mean a whole lot of our time and effort to get the business back the way it suits us best anyway which of course is all nonsense but is also the way life is.
3. The Agencies. They used to huddle together in a couple of groups.
One was just about everyone. The other just for the Australian owned ones to try and con the government into giving all the lovely government advertising to the lovely Australian owned agencies which are also all for sale to the lowest bidder but that is another subject. And anyway now there is just one big agency huddle called the AFA. (It used to be called the AIF but this was shot down in flames which, for such an association, was only right.)
You see, this association has a whole set of aims and objectives which are all to do with “ethics and furtherances and promotion” which really all means there’s this bunch of whores huddling together pretending to be nuns.
Now I don’t mind this harmless little charade and, in fact, if it keeps the players away from ever getting involved in the real game, then I am all for it, because I can do with all the lack of competition I can get.
And I don’t suppose either that I should really mind how much all the members pay to belong to this august and even september body, but it really does give me the shits when they pay out their good money to hire a spokesman who can not only do no good but also harm and not just to them but me too which is someone I really care about.
You see the AFA (remember that’s all the agencies huddling together) wanted to pay someone to be their spokesman because they themselves and in person did not know what to say or even who to say it to. So the AFA advertised in all the papers and did all the normal things and finished up with a spokesman who is a Tasmanian geography teacher (in Tasmania geography is a quick walk around the block) who is also a former member of parliament which is all very impressive for all concerned.
I wouldn’t have mentioned him or got angry if he hadn’t done a little bit on the IAC report on soap and detergent advertising. In essence the report says — in the nice cosy way that those socialist reports have — that soap manufacturers are basically ripoffs who spend too much money on advertising which is basically lies in any event.
Now if the AFA or its spokesman is worth a pinch of anything surely it would have at least point out that:
- If the consumer price of soaps or detergents is too high (“by 10 percent”) because of advertising, then the market is wide open for any other manufacturer, or retailer, to bring out another brand without the costs and make a killing.
- A greater percentage of the retail cost (15 percent) is stolen from the housewife, without her knowledge, in sales tax. A tax that hurts women, with more children and less income, more than any other group. If the bloody government is so concerned with price, why doesn’t it realise that the quickest way to cut the cost of living is to cut out all indirect taxes starting with the sales tax? Why doesn’t the bloody AFA even mention it?
- If there is advantage in listing ingredients on the pack, then Colgate and Unilever will have a race to do it first. The plain fact is that no one gives a stuff what’s in the stuff and the promulgation or acceptance of such a “contents” law is just another step towards total state control of all communication. Why doesn’t the bloody AFA even mention it?
- The IAC threat to ban advertising or “voluntarily” chop the Christ out of it is nothing more than blackmail and should be treated and exposed as such. Why doesn’t the AFA expose it?
- The fact that the IAC, at this stage, doesn’t see a total banning of soap advertising as being necessary is not only irrelevant and impertinent, it is a gross invasion of individual and group rights being contemplated by its very condescending rejection.
Surely to Christ the AFA executive director must have said something about the ratbaggery this all is. Even if just in the interests of self-survival. But not one word. And the IAC is allowed to be more “concerned with the type and level of advertising by the industry” even without an AFA whimper.
Only one Lachlan Maher stands up to be counted in a TV debate with a child named Paul Cheating who is evidently one of the ALP’s new young breed. Son of Dracula.
But no one but Maher hammers home the fact that the IAC is nothing more than a hospital for sick companies (and the AIDC is the morgue). What the hell the IAC has to do with types and levels of advertising of not-sick companies, Christ only knows.
Anyhow, as they used to say until the cigarette TV blackout this week (see it not only can happen, it already has happened, you asleep, out-to-lunch wackers), our good old AFA spokesman doesn’t do a thing except repeat the findings of the commission verbatim like some Indian patting a sacred cow.
And I guess in the short term I shouldn’t really give a stuff because at least I’m not one of the agencies kicking the tin to pay someone to actually help kick even more shit out of free enterprise and the freedom to express (including advertising) without encumbrance.
But somehow, even though I happen to get the AFA free, I don’t think it’s worth the money.
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