What I Learned From Enron

Last Saturday I went to see the play Enron, which, surprisingly enough, was about the Enron scandal.

It was good, but some parts were great.

The section that impressed me most was at the end where the disgraced Enron CEO, who got 24 years in jail for being a giant shitwhistle, tried to justify his actions.

He showed a graph that demonstrated how the bubbles, ie, the foolish overreachings of the human race had ultimately paved the way for its greatest successes. One example was the first dotcom boom, where we all rushed headlong into an explosion of interest and investment that couldn’t possibly be sustained. After the inevitable crash we got web 2.0, a much safer and more sensible development of t’internet which Enron’s author argues would not have been possible without the first, overly aggressive kick up the jacksie.

Of course, this is just another iteration of the concept of groundbreakers; men and women who show us the way by pushing the envelope too far. They didn’t know how far to push it because the parameters had yet to be set, but without the pioneers there can be no progress.

Which brings me, with a weary sense of inevitability, to advertising.

To progress in any way, the industry must be prepared for failure. It must be ready for things to go wrong so that we might learn by them and move forward with the knowledge we have gained.

But in more straitened times no fucker wants to do that. For the sake of the fee everyone wants to stay tucked very nicely within the envelope thank you very much. The aversion to risk, which leads to the truncation of progress, is currently all-pervasive, and it would be interesting to see where the next boom of anything will occur.

I find it interesting that this fallow period has followed directly the all-conquering Gorilla.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the impression that all over the world clients are currently asking for their own Gorilla, yet would never approve one in a million years (legend has it that a client didn’t really approve Gorilla. They had to wait for Fallon to make it off their own backs and get a positive response from YouTube to be convinced that it would work).

And there’s the problem: we all need to be complicit in moving things forward or the best intentions of one part of the process will be met with a brick wall from another.

Will we see another ‘boom’ that forces progress anytime soon? Well, since Martin Sorrell is so fond of making absolutely fucking cock-eyed predictions that never come within a barge pole of reality, I might as well do the same: the next truly great ad will happen in 2012, and it will be for Brain’s Faggots.

Mark my words.