“By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing… kill yourself. No, no, no it’s just a little thought. I’m just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day, they’ll take root – I don’t know. You try, you do what you can. Kill yourself. Seriously though, if you are, do. Aaah, no really, there’s no rationalization for what you do and you are Satan’s little helpers. Okay – kill yourself – seriously. You are the ruiner of all things good, seriously. No, this is not a joke, you’re going, ‘There’s going to be a joke coming.’ There’s no fucking joke coming. You are Satan’s spawn filling the world with bile and garbage. You are fucked and you are fucking us. Kill yourself. It’s the only way to save your fucking soul. Kill yourself.”
- Bill Hicks
Many times you hear writers talk about the the joy of writing because you get to share these common aspects of the human condition or simply bring smiles and much-needed-escapism into the lives of readers. And, you know, I tend to be a happy and optimistic fellow and honestly, I agree with those motives. Writing is a joy and a blessing and a wonderful medium by which to interact with the world around me.
Sometimes, when people are self-centered and presumptuous assholes, it’s fantastic to wield the pen which it mightier than the sword and cut off the heads of people who are pricks.
Are you familiar with Bill Hicks? He’s one of my favorite stand-up comedians of all time. Tragically, he died very young in 1994. He was only 32 when he passed away. If you don’t know his material, I encourage you to look him up. In one of his funnier bits, Bill Hicks did a piece on people who worked in marketing and he spoke about how they were all evil demonic spawns of darkness and should kill themselves. It is a hilarious bit. But, I never knew how true it was until March of 2013.
Now, before I tell you what happened, you need to understand a little background about me that you may not know; namely I have been a skateboarder all my life and I have scores of skateboarding videos on the Internet which have upwards of 15,000 subscribers and more than 2 million views. I feature videos on learning to skateboard and reviews of skateparks and contests and so forth. I shoot these videos all around Los Angeles with some of the top skateboarders in the world including Holly Lyons and Sarah Thompson and XGames medalists, Julz Lynn and Lizzie Armanto. Thus, I am quite knowledgeable about skateboarding and skateboarding culture.
Consequently, on 7 March 2013 at 6:55pm I received an unsolicited email from an advertising agency in Marina Del Rey. This is what it said.
I hope this email finds you well. My name is Carolyn and I work on the Levi’s account. Levi’s is interested in exploring the Skate culture as a passion point and is interested in getting to know the skate community better and wanted to see if you could help us gain a more intimate understanding of your skate site(s) and its audiences. We are providing a preliminary deep dive on the media landscape as it pertains to Skate, and while Behavioral and Demographic site user data would be helpful we are curious to see how your site participates in an active community role. Information on the unique perspective of your skate communities and how your site communicates with them would be most useful.
Attached is a template for the points of information that would be helpful for this deep dive, but feel free to provide further information as you see fit and list all sites as it relates to the skate category. In addition, any applicable information that could help us gain a better understanding of how your sites relate and converse with its community would be much appreciated. This includes any unique advantages your sites may have interacting with its community such as unique distribution of branded content, organic ways to reach highly-relevant influencers, fostering true engagement, igniting peer-to-peer sharing and other socially relevant activations.
Please let me know if you can help us get to know your community better. We would greatly appreciate if you could send the info back to us by EOD Friday. Please confirm receipt of this request.
Thanks in advance!
She also copied this email to her coworkers Spencer, Scott and Christina. Attached to her email was a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet called “Levis Skate Site Deep Dive”. This is what that spreadsheet looked like:
As you can see, it has multiple fields for multiple websites and categories like “Demo breakout and sweetspot” and “Estimated CPMs” which is a marketing term referring to the cost of advertising impressions.
Now, keep in mind, this email arrived about 6 months after I was laid off from working at Disney, after having been there for over 6 years. I loved working at Disney. Working for Walt Disney Studios was truly the proudest moment of my professional career and I was livid that I no longer had such a blessed opportunity in my life. I’m a firm believer in always advancing in life, always improving, and what could be better than working for Disney? How could I improve after that? Any other company would a step backwards. I had been thrown off a plateau, the heights of which I would never surpass. In other words, despite my typically chipper and positive outlook, my general demeanor towards life had become a lot more angry and pissy than usual.
Then this fucking email shows up filled with corporate-zombie euphemisms, asking me to do work for them, with no mention of any compensation. They expect me to fill out a fucking speadsheet and give me a goddamn deadline to get it done!? Who the fuck do they think they are!? Their client is Levi’s fucking Jeans for christsake! Not like they don’t have any fucking money. They didn’t even offer me a goddamn pair of pants for my trouble. Fuck them. I was furious at the gall, the audacity, and the arrogance of these marketing agency scumbags.
So, I responded with the following.
Wow. Are you fucking kidding me? Have you read your email?
“We are providing a preliminary deep dive on the media landscape as it pertains to Skate, and while Behavioral and Demographic site user data would be helpful we are curious to see how your site participates in an active community role. Information on the unique perspective of your skate communities and how your site communicates with them would be most useful.”
Who the hell talks that way!? What’s wrong with you? Let me guess. Some fuckwit wrote that form letter and you just plug in words like “skate” where needed? Right? Whatever fits the “target demo” you’re trying to analyze.
“Hey, I work at an advertising agency and Levi’s Jeans are interested in knowing more about skateboarding culture. Can you help me out?”
That’s all you need to say. That’s how humans talk. Your email sounds more like it was written by an emotionally vapid asshole with a BMW and a 3-piece suit, who spends too much time in meetings.
And what’s with this end-of-day Friday shit? You ask a complete stranger for help AND GIVE THEM A DEADLINE? How dare you! Who the fuck do you douchebags think you are? Sorry to shatter your self-important delusions of grandeur, but your irrelevant client and your agency are meaningless to me. I don’t need to complete any Excel surveys for you by the end of your Friday workday, or any other day for that matter. I graduated high school a long time ago. Do your own fucking homework.
Go home Carolyn. You sent this email at 7:00pm. You should have been home hours ago. Your job is not that important. You’re not rescuing orphans or curing terminal diseases. You work at an advertising agency. Stay there 9 to 5 and not a minute more. Your friends and family take priority over your job. Get out of the office and go see them. You want to learn about skateboarding culture? Take the day off work. Go to RipCity or Venice Originals. Buy a skateboard. Learn to ride it. Become part of the culture. Don’t send out inhuman emails asking about “unique distribution of branded content” and “CPM impressions”. Get out of that cubicle and live a little. That’s how you develop “organic ways to reach highly-relevant influencers” and start “fostering true engagement”.
Read my book www.SchoolingYourBossToNotSuck.com and learn how humans need to behave in the corporate world. This is for a grade, so have your book report finished by the end of the day on Monday. I’m sure a drone like yourself is used to working all weekend, right? Figure out how to treat human beings like human beings, instead of seeing every person as a fucking statistical analysis.
Finally, don’t ever write back with some bullshit corporate-speak apology about offending my sensibilities. I’m not interested in your apologies. I just want you to start living like an actual person again. Life is so painfully short and that office is killing everything that makes you human.
Oh, that felt good. I made sure to copy Spencer, Scott and Christina. Obviously, I never heard back from any of them. My only lament is that I couldn’t be a fly on the wall to see their reactions. I bet my email was the talk of the office all afternoon.
Or perhaps not.
Maybe my reaction is commonplace. Perhaps those evil little demons of the marketing world are accustomed to being verbally decapitated and simply sewing their pustulant craniums back on their rotting necks. But in my fantasies, I like to imagine they were filled with such indignant consternation they could barely put gas in that Mercedes they can’t actually afford. I hope she cried. That’s what would make me happy. I hope Carolyn cried and hated herself and took a long look in the mirror and saw that she was dead inside. I hope she was miserable that night. I hope the next day, she woke up and quit her job. I hope she started working as something she always dreamed of being. Pursuing that passion she had when she was a little girl. That thing she always wanted to try, but was too scared to try it. I hope I was the Tyler Durden to her Raymond K. Hessel. Because goodness knows, no one ever aspires to working in advertising. Working in advertising is a career that you “end up doing”, not a job you ever dream of achieving.
But maybe I was too late for Carolyn and her coworkers. They may already be inexorably fused into the ratrace, and like batteries in The Matrix, they are unable to be unplugged.
For those of you already on that path and staring into the inevitability of transforming into mindless drones, let this be your final warning. Turn back. Run. Do not become part of a system that strips away all joy and humanity, lest you end up working in an industry that uses terms like “deep dive” and “peer-to-peer sharing” and staying in the office 12 hours a day under the delusion you will be “appreciated” for your self-imposed slavery and the only moments of laughter you will know are hollow happy hour gatherings with the assholes who sit in the adjoining cubicles.
Perhaps I am too late to save Carolyn and her brethren from that hellish fate.
But I pray it’s not too late for you. Get out while you still can.
I opened this piece talking about writing providing joy and entertainment. My scathing reply to Carolyn certainly entertained me and I hope conveying my little story brought you some joy.