Some of adland’s grandest fromages pitched up in Venice last week to discuss the state of. . . well, adland.
Curiously, The Venice Festival of Media didn’t involve any journalists. The posh delegates stayed at the Hotel Baglioni (£340 per night) and the plebs — it’s a relative term — paid £140 to stay in a modest pensione halfway between St. Mark’s Square and Albania.
Amid such splendour, it must have been instructive to listen to a senior marketer from Unilever coming on like a graduate of one of Chairman Mao’s Rural Re-Education Academies:
[Laura] Klauberg [vice-president of global media for Unilever] described how the company that for decades had spent the vast majority of its ad budget on TV spots had come to understand the value of new media – and the necessity of change.
‘How could we, as one of the world’s biggest global advertisers, continue as if it’s business as usual? Media and creative could not continue to live in separate silos and we couldn’t continue to produce 30-second ads,” she said.
Indeed. How could we?
As the Maoist intellectual Liu Shao-chi put it in 1945:
Whenever a comrade in a responsible position seriously practices sincere and necessary self-criticism before the Party membership and the masses. . . internal solidarity will develop. . . work will improve and. . . defects will be overcome; while the prestige of the responsible comrade will increase instead of being undermined.
Self-criticism? It’s as good for you today as it’s always been.