In the early nineties, I started noticing a new attitude from advertising clients. Where previous clients respected our opinions and were willing to pay for our expertise, clients began questioning everything from concepts to production to grammar. It was if our college degrees and years of experience meant nothing.
You see, this new generation of clients had seen plenty of advertising. They had computer programs to check spelling and grammar. Suddenly, they were experts.
Even worse, marketing directors and advertising managers would often hire their nephews and nieces to design print ads, brochures and websites because “they had taken a class in graphic design.” Where we had been held to account with a variety of measurements – awareness studies, focus groups, sales results, etc. – the nephews and nieces were exempt from all that. While these clients admitted the work might not be great, they said it was “good enough.”
Within a few years, large clients such as Frito-Lay were holding contests for amateurs to create their Super Bowl commercials. In reality, this became a new way to generate “buzz” and to cut costs.
The advertising industry isn’t the only one affected. The innundation of media, computers, the Internet, Worldwide Web, YouTube and “apps” have had the same affect on most professions. People with no specialized education or training now believe they are expert writers, artists, designers, photographers, film directors, video editors, football coaches, basketball coaches…you name it. For example, almost everyone is an expert on education…after all, everyone has attended some sort of school.
I realized this phenomenon had reached a point of no return when college football fans bought games which allowed them to play their team’s upcoming schedule on their home computer. They then announced the results as if they were predictors of the upcoming season. When the actual team played actual opponents and lost, these “gamers” were then convinced that the loss was the result of the coach approaching the actual game differently than they had on the computer.
Such idiocy is relatively harmless…until it spills into economics, science, politics and everyday life.
We now have politicians who think they know more about climate change than climatologists. Religious leaders who claim evolution is just a theory. (Of course it is…in the same way gravity is a theory!) Political leaders who claim the way to end poverty is to take away social safety nets. We have created a society of people who believe they’re experts about everything, and if they aren’t, they can just “Google it.”
It’s long past time that we again respect the real experts…the professionals who have spent years learning and mastering a subject. It’s time we stop seeing conspiracies around every corner (that only diminishes the real conspiracies.) We need to learn to trust again. And we need to earn that trust. Until we do, our nation and our civilization will never truly prosper.