School of Thought

Oh, do we have thoughts

Get Me 30 Rock!

There’s a lot of bad advertising out there. But I was blessed to be able to find my pick for the worst ad for all of 2011 right across the street from our offices. What good fortune!

Now, journalism is a tough gig these days. My empathy for the news bureaus, local or otherwise, is significant. Ratings are down. On-demand video is crushing. Kids don’t know what News is. We get it.

But, and excuse my francais, what the hell were they thinking?

At this point, I should mention, I have this dream, probably illusory, of having this post circle the globe enough times so that it finds its way to the desk of the actual, not 30 Rock, head of NBComcastic. (Hopefully, the real CEO’s reaction won’t mimic Baldwin’s character, which is to say, fuel up the company jet, fly west and take Christina on a date.)

But let’s get back to this so-called advertising. Channel 11 is, or was, what I thought was the Bay Area’s Quality Bearer, the well-funded local NBC affiliate. Do they leverage their Peabody awards? Their local Emmys? The quality of that investigative report on BALCO labs? Their homegrown reporters? Even, how they rank #1 with their interns?

No, no, no. We’re Channel 11. Home of the Hotties.

Ignore how this is playing externally (at least, in the School of Thought offices). Let’s consider how this fine campaign is going over internally, with the rest of the team:

Laura Garcia-Cannon, one of the morning news anchors, was recently the Associated Press Reporter of the Year. She’s won multiple Emmy and AP awards for her reporting and writing.

Jessica Aguirre has earned Emmy awards for her series on the struggles faced by migrant children and for a series on child molesters. Her series on Cuban boat people trying to make it to the U.S. won an Associated Press award. She’s on the boards of numerous charities and is a member of the National Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences.

Yes, yes, that’s all well and good—how do they look in an evening dress?

No doubt, the team’s morale is soaring.

And yes, I’m not oblivious to the fact that there’s an enormous double standard at play in broadcast journalism. It’s an ugly market dynamic. But who in their right mind would make it the lead?

I’ve worked at agencies, and I’ve worked in-house. Obviously, my skills and experience are the same in either location.

But there’s a slight but important distinction. On the outside, one gains perspective. There’s the critical separation between the teams. If the Emperor shouldn’t be wearing underwear—I don’t mean, go Commando—you’re often more able to raise the hand and say so.

That should be the role. What’s best for the client.

Somebody please drop us a note, when Channel 11 learns how to do some good-looking advertising.