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  • Bob Hoffman

BOZOS IN THE BOARDROOM

In a more discerning age, entertainers were called "fools". Today, entertainers have become oracles.


Marketers have always been willing to pay entertainers for the reflected glory of their fame. Now they’re willing to invite these people into the board room.


Celebrities like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Robert Downey, Jr. and Alicia Keys are being paid by marketers to be part of the corporate structure. Or at least, to pretend to be. According to Ad Age, “..brands aren’t just featuring celebs in marketing campaigns — they’re giving stars a place in the marketing suite...with lofty titles like chief creative officer (and)...chief innovator...”


The idea that entertainers belong in the corporate structure is exceptionally silly.

Let’s start with actors. Actors are good at pretending. Their talent is making believe. They can pretend they are Jesus, or cowboys, or Iron Man, or Abraham Lincoln. But here’s the thing. They are not Jesus, or cowboys, or Iron Man, or Abraham Lincoln. They are mostly just ninnies who are good at pretending.


Then there are singers. The ability to sing is a lovely and pleasant talent. However, it is a talent that has no correlation to any other attribute. The ability to sing makes you no more virtuous, intelligent, or insightful than your average dry cleaner. It would not surprise us to learn that Joseph Goebbels had a lovely baritone.


Qualities totally unrelated to acting and singing have been attributed to these people. As our pandering media pay more and more attention to their idiotic shenanigans, they continue to gain status in the shallow, injudicious culture of our industry.


Enter Will.i.am. A while back Will.i.am began blazing the trail for celebrity marketing poseurs. If you are not a fan of hip- hop and pop culture, Will.i.am was a very successful music entrepreneur. He fronted the Black Eyed Peas, produced for huge stars, won Grammies and has loads of platinum.


He is also known for one of the worst half-time shows in Super Bowl history (nothing will ever be worse than The Who.) At the time, he was also responsible for creating some Super Bowl spots for SalesForce which were, remarkably, even worse than his half-time show.

Will followed his Super Bowl megaflops with a blog piece about marketing in Ad Age called “What Does Communiting Mean?” It was so stupefyingly dumb that I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. It was written in a kind of post-literate, faux-poetic style that might impress the dimmest 12-year-old.


The whole piece had the tone of those YouTube videos from a couple of years ago about social media (the ones that breathlessly explained how there are more people on Facebook than there are in the entire universe.) Then we were treated to a painful stream of Will’s infantile philosophizing...


“...today is all about accessing the physical representation of collective consciousness”


Really? But can I still watch hockey?


“...you need to create conversations with your customers...so I say,MAKE CONVERSATIONS NOT ADS...”


Wow, amazing thought.


But the real piece de resistance is a word he made up — “communiting.” It’s the kind of cringe-inducing neologism an 8th-grader would invent.


“...COMMUNITING is about COMMUNICATION between people and companies that enables or sustains a COMMUNITY...”


You can tell COMMUNITING is important because of the use of ALL CAPS.


In addition to being a corporate marketing advisor to SalesForce, Will.i.am also holds the title of Director of Creative Innovation at Intel. It’s starting to feel like Silicon Valley is getting mighty thick with star-fuckers.


Recently, the Clio awards (remember them?) announced that Will.i.am has been awarded an “honorary award” this year for his “inspired creative work.” At a recent marketing conclave, this inspiring genius had this inspiring thing to say: “We need to stop looking at people as consumers and start looking at what they are, which is people.”


Are there Clios for tautology?


The marketing industry, totally absorbed with data and metrics and completely bereft of ideas, has a new beard to hide behind — entertainers. We’ve got to get these fools back into their silly hats and pointy shoes before they start doing real damage.


Ill.i.am.


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