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Wednesday, 10 March 2010

I blame the humanists ....and the post modernists

From a job advertisement:


Acts as central point of communication on multiple projects under the direction of an Account Director. Formats proposals, conference reports, project requests, and other documentation as needed. Files and organizes project documentation. Coordinates team planning meetings. Attends internal team meetings, project briefings, creative reviews, production meetings, etc. Assembles materials for presentations and meetings and coordinates courier services. Initiates preparation for project meetings/conference calls: agendas, rooms, meals, etc. Maintains client relationship as appropriate. Works with design directors, production directors, consultants and team to schedule and facilitate the flow of information in all project phases, ensuring that milestones such as client approvals and internal proofing requirements are met and recorded. Keeps Account Director informed of project status needs. Establishes budget/billing standards and opens job numbers. Conducts weekly financial project reviews, informs project team and senior managers of budget status. Is responsible for managing budgets based on proposals, preparation of add-on business project requests, and monitoring completion of deliverables per proposals and contracts. Initiates client billings and collections. Communicates with client as appropriate on financial project matters. Works with WO Financial Director to address specific client contract issues."

It should be confessed that even with an experience that includes being the UK's joint second best academic, Hull's leading scenic carpenter , the artistic driving force behind seminal prog-folk-Latino-punk duo Cheek to Cheek, friend to Canadians, rising (albeit novitiate) star of volunteer second language acquisition teaching and a veteran cat-wrangler to boot - despite all of this (and the years of too much time on my hands it implies) I have no idea what a person employed to do the above job would actually do that could be described more efficiently than by just saying

Job Description:

"Talking. Sometimes to more than one person at once. Some filing"

The advertisement comes from a company specializing in "branding" - not the anti-cattle rustling techniques of the Wild West, but the impenetrable alternative to actually making anything that has become a growth industru worldwide. Their website features, very trendily, a "blog" section where employees are encouraged to free-associate and write with-it, hip, urban hymns - 'thought pieces'. Here's an extract from one such piece entitled "5 marketing ideas for 2010:

4. Think 365 -- not 360: Shift from singular, consistent messages to multiple coherent ideas, from simplistic, one dimensional, reduced executions to complex, multidimensional, rich executions. Stop striving for perfection and go for progress by iteration. Join the movement shifting from campaign thinking to conversation thinking. At the same time, a brand must build long-term platforms to become an indispensable part of people's daily lives by providing continued entertainment and utility. Brands can't afford to go dark any more. Instead, stimulate brand conversations with more initiatives, more often. Just like people, brands are a sum of their experience.

Draw a crowd not a herd

There is no greater sign of a result on line than critical mass audience. But let the crowd rule itself, and herd-like, mindless behaviour can take over. Some people say the app market has already gotten too free-form and that beautiful ones are being tarnished by ‘crappy apps’. There’s now the phrase ‘loser generated content’.

It is perhaps important to note that this company doesnt even sell washing powder, it devises the "brand identity" of the people that own the advertising companies that contract to the people who actaully do sell that simple mixture of phosphates and perfumes that ensure we dont go to work smelling like arse.

But when encountering this sort of impenetrable language, there is always the feeling, triggered somewhere in the back of the old amygdala, that one is provinical, missing something. That somehow I am not sophisticated enough to understand the deep layers of meaning and import implied. The impression is conyeved of incredibly busy people who drink coffee meaningfully, read the "style" sections of newspapers AND actually buy some of the products displayed within the pages, and who actually know what flavour saffron is supposed to impart. These people dont cook , they do "cuisine". They dont go to work , they 'commute'. They dont go on holiday or vacation, they 'travel'.

Personally, I blame the humanists first. And the post modernists second.

My particular hatred for humanists, at this time, stems from having to write, for the third time of asking, an essay about their approach to education. An essay, I should hasten to add, where the use of the words "arse", "emporer's got no clothes on", "self-indulgent" or "poppycock" would quite probably get me downgraded. Having ground my own teeth down to bare nerve endings in the first essay, disembowelled myself with rusty tools to survive the second essay, I am now faced with the choice of either picking my own eyes out with chilli-pepper infused cocktails sticks or ramming red hot pokers up my otherwise untouched nether regions merely to survive the third essay. Consequently, I have an unhealthy hatred of Abraham Maslov and Carl Rogers. My emotions towards these pseudo-philosophical charlatans is that it would satisfy my self-actualizing tendencies considerably to immolate both of them on a Inquistors pyre.

The real problem I have is that the liberalistic Western mumbo jumbo they espouse does not get us nearer to understanding humans, it gets us farther away. The same applies for theorists post-modern. They are the intellectual embodiment of why complex civilizations collapse - inventing solutions for self-created problems. Fortunately for me, the essay I have to focus on after politely describing humanist psychology is the altogether more relevant study of whether the Neolithic Revolution was related to the birth of property rights. Now there's a real subject to get your teeth into.

How does this relate to job adverts, you might ask? Well, without a ridiculously inflated impression of the importnce of buying shit that pervades all of our cultures, branding and marketing would not exist. The actual hierarchy of human needs is food, warmth, shelter. Not the i-phone. Not some transferrable chic implied by association with an idiot rapper, street artist or free-climber.


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