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The Chaos Scenario
Categories: Business

On, Richard Romano reviews Bob Garfield’s The Chaos Scenario: Amid the Ruins of Mass Media, The Choice for Business is Stark: Listen or Perish. Garfield is a longtime writer for Advertising Age. (Richard is Frank Romano’s son – Frank is a hilarious graphics arts industry pundit and professor at RIT.) Excerpts below. For the full article, see

I want to know what opportunity you see in chaos?

“One popular story from the book has been passed around virally, but it bears echoing here. Jan Leth, executive creative director of OgilvyInteractive North America…tells a funny little story about an agency assignment for Six Flags. “They had a promotion for their 45th anniversary. They wanted to give away 45,000 tickets for opening day to drive traffic. So we got a brief to do whatever: ads, microsite, whatever. But our interactive creative director just went off and posted it on Craigslist. Five hours later, 45,000 tickets were spoken for. No photo shoot. No aftershoot drinks at Shutters….Now, the trick is, how do you get paid?” The implication is clear: “Ad agencies are simply not organized in a way to profit from modern means of connecting with consumers.” What does the future hold for the ad agency? It needs to rethink how best to facilitate the relationship between business and consumer.

All of this is well and good, but is there a silver lining in any of this?

Listen to What the Man Said

Understand that the consumer, the viewer, the audience is in control of the message, and that they are not to be dictated to any longer. Garfield cites as prima facie evidence of this his long battle with Comcast. He recounts a not unusual story of bad service, poor customer relations, and general corporate idiocy in his attempts at getting the company to actually provide a service for pay. In frustration, he began a Web site called, where other aggrieved customers could share their horror stories. The most remarkable thing about the episode was that Comcast actually paid attention to the site, and contacted those who had posted there and helped resolve their problems. Obviously, the strategy was to “grease the squeakiest wheels” and not necessarily change any of the institutional problems that inspired the arias of customer dissatisfaction. Still, it was a step in the right direction. If the giant corporation hasn’t changed overnight, just remember that an aircraft carrier can’t exactly turn on a dime.

Posted by Kathy Sandler on Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 12:01 AM

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