The more things change, the more they stay the same

Have you watched Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Yes? I watch it, along with an average of 28.5 million other people, not because I particularly like it, but because I have children. My 13-year-old son watches it obsessively, and his...

Have you watched Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Yes?

I watch it, along with an average of 28.5 million other people, not because I particularly like it, but because I have children. My 13-year-old son watches it obsessively, and his younger sisters are swept along on the tsunami of his hysterical enthusiasm for the show.

The merest hint that we might encroach upon his viewing privileges on a Who Wants To Be evening is sufficient to coerce him into all manner of depravities, such as practising his piano, cleaning up the dog poop in the back yard, finishing his homework by eight, even putting in half an hour of reading for an upcoming book report.

When the show actually starts, he usually calls his tennis buddy (who, incidentally, lives in Guelph) long distance, and they watch the show together, shouting encouragement and advice at the screen while writhing on the floor in spasms of nervous energy. Next day at school, last night’s questions and answers, winners and losers are the subject of lengthy, boisterous and universal banter and analysis.

Now my question is not whether Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? deserves to be the hottest show on television, which it is. Or how any show could conceivably make a hot property out of Regis Philbin for God’s sake, which it has. It’s why has it taken 40 years for somebody to remember people like big-prize quiz shows?

Given all the network geniuses that have come and gone in the four decades since The Sixty-Four-Thousand-Dollar Question was the hottest show on television, didn’t one of them sit bolt upright at three o’clock in the morning and say Jeez, I wonder if the world is ready for another big-prize quiz show?

Surely the greatest ongoing racket in the communications business is the eternal quest for the next new thing. If you’ve lived long enough and tried to pay attention, it finally hits you that the next new thing is actually yet another re-hash of the same old thing all over again only wearing a hat.

This phenomenon was noted by the late, great Bill Bernbach, whose words you might wish to read aloud at the beginning of your next meeting just before the agency

presents The Very Cool New


Bernbach wrote ‘It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop, it will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessing drive to service, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.’

Further evidence that nothing

really changes has been provided by another recent media event, that of the firing of CTV’s Avery Haines for the stuttering-lesbian-black-rubber-leg crack.

Her off-air, impromptu, self-mocking shot at the loonier reverse-discriminatory implications of ‘affirmative action’ must seem inoffensive to anyone who reads this journal. In Adland, we laugh it up bigtime at the genuinely obscene, depraved and salacious jibes that enliven the Creative Guy Subculture, eh? Are we Those Dreadful Advertising People OR WHAT?

What really impressed me was the crazed fury of the perpetually offended, the it’s-my-job-to-be-outraged, the dead-serious, ugly-sounding people on the phone-ins who wanted her fired, hurt, punished for finding humour in reverse discrimination. Apple may not mind if somebody thinks different, but these people hate it.

The more conciliatory merely wanted Haines to undergo a lengthy suspension from her profession, while she endured psychological counselling and diversity training. These are the same folks who turned their neighbours in to the Gestapo and the Red Guard, the Salem Witch prosecutors and the Spanish Inquisition. The good folks who’ve drummed up business for secret police torture cells down through history. And here they are, spewing away on CBC radio, right here, right now.

I began to wonder if there are any minorities or identifiable groups that it would be ok to have a little fun with in Canada in the year 2000. (When I was a kid, you could dis ‘The Japs’, but that was not long after the unpleasantness of Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. And years later, but still long ago, Bernbach’s agency did a Lufthansa campaign that said The warm, friendly, loveable Germans invite you to fly with them. They were fired, of course, but I think people got it.)

You can still dump on Nazis, probably. As long as you don’t have any fun with it. And advertising people. But I think that’s about it.

Barry Base creates advertising campaigns for a living. He creates this column for fun, and to test the unproven theory that clients who find the latter amusing may also find the former to their liking. Barry can be reached at (416) 924-5533, or faxed at (416) 960-5255, at the Toronto office of Barry Base & Partners.

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.