The Bachman Effect.

How stupid should advertising be to accurately reflect and connect with its target?

Depends on who you ask. David Ogilvy famously wrote, “the customer isn’t stupid. She’s your mother.” Well, we’re not going to touch that one.

In many categories, the rule of thumb is to write to a sixth-grade education. I can live with that. Sixth graders know all sorts of facts, some useful and some not. U.S. history is pretty fresh in their heads, and the kids not stuck in Kansas or some compound in Utah know about evolution. More importantly, they are at an age where they are beginning to understand the adult world and its rules are not what they seem. Their BS meter is on high alert.

Yeah, I wouldn’t mind making ads for sixth graders. What I do mind is writing ads for people who forgot everything they knew in sixth grade, and are damn proud of it because it frees them to make shit up, or—if that requires too much mental effort—believe without a moment’s hesitation the shit other people make up.

Which brings me to Michelle Bachman, the jesterU.S. Representative from Minnesota. Gail Collins accurately characterized her a few weeks ago as, essentially, Tracy Flick hit by the stoopid stick. I don’t want to go into a long recitation of her lies, malapropisms and shaky grasp of historical fact. This is an advertising blog, after all. So let me bring this back to the subject at hand.

Are we making ads for people for people so fucking stupid, they think Michelle Bachman has something useful to say? If so, can we rock it Bachman-style and just make crazy claims and accusations?

Here’s one:

Tide’s bulls-eye design is a secret Al Quaeda missile-targeting program. Buy Gain instead and fight terrorism.

Or how about this:

Ten out of 12 signers of the Constitution preferred Pappa John’s pizza to Dominos. Pappa John: the Founding Pappa pizza.

I don’t think Fox would have a problem with either of these, do you? And if other networks’ Clearance departments have a problem, perhaps we can ask them why they see Michelle Bachman’s lie-strewn diatribes as “news” and make no effort to fact-check?


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