Episode 62: A Week For Weakness

It’s spoopy season! October has rolled around, bringing with it such midwest delights as pumpkin patches, apple orchards, plunging temperatures, and of course my annual change-of-season allergies. Yes folks, I’m a mess, and that’ll be reflected in this episode as we plunge into our most controversial and dour episode yet! Or at least since Jake left and took the light out of my life. Let’s get started, shall we? 

California Enrolls Its Student Athletes in Endorsements


The big news for advertisers this week comes not from the land of video (alas!), though I’m sure there’s plenty of room for crossover. New rules coming into play in the Golden State will allow advertisers to cash in on the popularity of college athletes. From the AP News, 

“Defying the NCAA, California opened the way Monday for college athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsement deals with sneaker companies, soft drink makers, car dealerships and other sponsors, just like the pros.

The first-in-the-nation law, signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and set to take effect in 2023, could upend amateur sports in the U.S. and trigger a legal challenge.”

Now there are massive implications for all the divisions, subsidies, and fandoms, BUT I don’t watch college sports, so I don’t care about that. Here’s my perspective: if this law persists, and it very well may not, but if it does, we will see an acceleration to the convergence between public figure endorsement deals and influencers. Influencers are really just small-time celebrities, usually in the young-Millennial to old-Gen Z range, and getting younger every day (here’s looking at you, Ryan’s Toysreview!).

Why shouldn’t a state-wide famous athlete be paid to push products on his or her Snapchat account? What if they’re famous BEFORE college? Shake ups like this are great for shedding new light on how we define things in the culture. Treating college stars as influencers is cheaper for the brands, it’s good for the kids in question, and as a marketer, frankly, I like to see stagnant industries challenged about their arbitrary boundaries. Also, screw colleges. 

Stranger Things Season 4


In less controversial news, it wouldn’t be The Slate and Main Podcast if I didn’t bring up streaming-related news, would it? Stranger Things 4 was announced alongside a 45 second teaser trailer from Netflix, promising an ominous, “We’re not in Hawkins Anymore.” Netflix also announced they’ve signed the shows two creators, the Duffer brothers, to  a multi-film and series deal for more future content. Good for them. 

But let’s talk shop for a second here. Shall we speak honestly? Cynically, even? Netflix isn’t what it used to be. Netflix originals can’t float this boat, both because they’re too meager and, frankly, because they’re not good. Even Stranger Things has been less good year-over-year. Netflix has money and name recognition, not to mention millions of existing subscribers, but they’re deeply vulnerable from a content perspective. I’m not convinced the streaming wars are going to be good for anybody, but it will be especially rough for those without a robust line up of content. 

Advertising Week


Finally, we would be remiss if we skipped mentioning that last week was Advertising Week in New York, and in order to get you caught up, I did a lot of reading and researching to stay plugged in to the going’s on from a top my midwestern perch. Here is what I learned: 

Nothing. Seriously, this week was so uneventful and boring, even AdAge in their Five Top Lessons round up spend two of their slots talking about the lines for food and how much uptown New York sucks. 

This tells me something, and it connects to our two previous topics: advertising is becoming increasingly thin as a product and dangerously distant as an industry. I can count on one hand how many ads I’ve encountered in the last year that I found engaging, and several of them left me with a negative connotation.

That can’t continue.

In a lot of ways, the advent of digital and digital video have only pushed off the reckoning that the industry needed to have in the mid-2000s about it’s bloat, lack of creativity, and self indulgence. Like a lot of industries today, disruption has been a weird force, not wholly destructive but also rarely instructive.

The recent wave of in-house agencies is just one example of an old idea made new again, but without any improvements over the last time it didn’t work. It’s even happening in the microcosm of social as each new platform is greeted with the same crushing desire to bend any advertising opportunities to fit within the basic placement mold.

If you think I’m wrong, look at one of the few actually helpful insights from advertising week, that even with the Media Ratings Council’s new meticulous video measurement standards, there is no unified system by which to implement these standards! Does it get any more defunct than that? “Hey, guys, look! To help you with your video marketing, we invented a thing you can’t use, and it only took us two years!”

Thanks. Big help. 


No, the industry needs a drastic paradigm shift, one in the way of my description in the 2019 Video Marketing Guide. Actually, even more extreme than that. Companies need to stop treating marketing as Gabriel the archangel being sent down from the mountaintop as an emissary to impart holy knowledge of sales and discounts on the unwashed masses. Personal, authentic, human interactions are two-to-three years away from being mandatory. Anyone who consumes cutting edge video regularly knows what this looks like. Video is the greatest tool for authenticity marketers have ever had, and we’re wasting it on 30 second, skippable placements.

Hunter Smith