Here’s what Lairig Marketing predicted in December 2010, for August 2011:
"August – NYTimes.com’s First Paywall Victim
After receiving an inordinate volume of reader complaints about the value of paying for access to long-time Advertising columnist Stuart Elliott’s articles, The Times forces him to retire…"
Written half in jest, half in hope. But, in reality, there was no hope The Times would part with him.
So, mark this an “0 for August” (bringing us to 4 for 8 on predictions through August). All is not lost, however, as we will show how you – yes you, DEAR READER – can write like Herr Elliott.
Your opening must hark back to a reference no one under the age of 35 will get. For example:
From April 7: “What does Kraft Foods have in common with Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis? They are all ghostbusters.”
Then, less than a month later: “Remember the mock rant in Ghostbusters about ‘dogs and cats living together’? A new campaign for a dairy staple takes another look at the concept of unlikely amorous encounters.”
Next, have your assistant fetch two very dry paragraphs about the industry of the advertiser being “reviewed” in the current column (reviewed is in quotes, because all of Elliott’s articles originate from the PR department of the featured marketer).
Next, you literally describe the marketer’s TV spots. Other sources would link you to actual video, but not Elliott. Instead, turgid prose like this:
“In one commercial, a family is saying goodbye to their Thanksgiving dinner guests and as soon as the door closes, their home is magically transformed into Christmas Holiday Central, complete with decorated tree…” Jesus! As exciting, and as interesting, as watching paint dry.
Next, include no less than 15 paragraphs describing what the marketer is trying to do, using as much marketingspeak as possible. And, do it with an annoying convention of sentences that are half quotes, half nonqoutes. Like this:
For instance, the print ads featuring Unilever describe how Accenture helped Unilever executives “with an unprecedented effort to simplify, standardize and unify their business processes worldwide,” achieving “over 1 billion euros in savings” so far.
Look at those last nine words – nonquote, quote, nonquote. Dizzying. Unreadable. Especially when it covers a high-end topic like Chuck Norris as the spokesperson for Era laundry detergent – all 1850 words of it.
Conclude with where the campaign will run (content lifted directly from the marketer’s press release), and have your assistant plug in media spend data from a third-party.
Rinse “and repeat.” Weekly. Year “after year” after “year”…
Sadly, Elliott has stopped closing each piece with a bad pun. Age, we guess.
Sadder still is the fact that The Times has upped the ante considerably with its technology blog, Bits. Its media blog, Media Decoder, is well done, also. That it hasn’t created a similarly strong advertising and marketing blog that covers more than TV campaign blather, is a tragedy.