Frank Zappa is considered one of the most innovative rock musicians ever.

I just saw an old video of him talking about the music industry.

He said people always ask him why music was better back in the sixties and seventies.

He said: I’ll tell you why.

What we had then was fat old guys with cigars who didn’t know anything about music and didn’t care.

We came to them with a new sound they said:

“I don’t like it but I hate this shit anyway, maybe the kids will like it.

Try it, if it sells we’ll go with it, if it doesn’t, we’ll can it.”

So what happened was lots of experimental stuff got made, lots of new stuff, sounds you never heard before.

But then they began hiring young guys who liked the music and thought they knew all about it.

If we came up with something new, these young guys would say “I don’t like it, and I know a lot about music.

We’re not putting that record out. Go and do something I like.”

And that’s what’s ruined the music industry.

You’ve got people who think they know, people who think they’re experts.

So they kill everything that doesn’t conform to their opinion.

That’s why everything sounds the same, because these young guys are everywhere now. 

That surprised me.

I thought he could have been talking about advertising.

What we used to have for a client was a marketing director in charge of pricing, and distribution, and a lot more.

Advertising was just a small part of their job.

The client used to say: “I don’t like it but I’m not the target market. You’re being paid to be the experts so if you think it’s right do it, but it better work or else.”

So a lot of interesting work ran.

But, like everything else, it’s has been taken over by experts.

Now we have young clients with marketing degrees who’ve read all the books and passed all the exams.

So nothing that doesn’t fit in with what they’ve learned can slip through.

They come along on shoots, attend recordings, even edits.

They’ve got an opinion about every frame.

So you now have an advertising industry whose sole job is to please the client.

Not to do anything new and surprising.

Because these marketing and advertising experts see it as their job to stop anything like that slipping through.

They’ve all learned the identical things on their marketing courses.

And they think marketing is the same wherever you do it.

Whether it’s a car, a perfume, a washing powder, or a beer.

So all advertising ends up looking like all other advertising.

Just the way all music sounds like all other music.


In advertising just like music, we’ve trained a generation of experts in making everything bland.