LENIN V LENNON

 

 

I read an interview with Jackie Stewart in the Sunday Times.

For younger readers, Jackie Stewart was one of the greatest Formula One drivers ever.

He’s Scottish and has a thick accent.

The interviewer asked him what was the best piece of advice that he could pass along.

Then quoted his answer: “As Lenin said: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

The interview carried on, but I stopped: “As Lenin said…”?

V. I. Lenin, the man who led the communist revolution in 1917, the man who the Germans smuggled into Russia in a sealed train, the man who gave birth to the USSR?

That Lenin?

Did the interviewer think the Bolshevik revolutionary had tossed off the whimsical aphorism between assassinations: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”?

Or was there another possibility?

Had the interviewer misunderstood Stewart’s Scottish accent?

Had he actually said: “As Lennon said…”

Lennon being John Lennon, the musician who wrote the song ‘Beautiful Boy’ and sang:

“Before you cross the street, take my hand:

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”

Did he mean that Lennon, and not Lenin?

With a nanosecond’s thought we can work out that he probably did.

And yet no one at the Sunday Times questioned it, none of the sub-editors, none of the proof-readers.

Was the interviewer not listening, or was he not interested, in either case why was he doing a job he didn’t care enough about to get right?

But that seems to be the level at which people in the media do their jobs.

No one researches a topic, no one needs to know who they’re talking to, or what they’re talking about.

Watch any of our highest paid interviewers, talking to anyone.

Whatever the subject, the question is always: “How did that make you feel?”

If the person being interviewed is trying to answer with facts, the facts are ignored while the question is repeated: “How did you feel about that?”

For people in the media facts are trivia, emotion is everything, that’s current thinking.

But how about people in the real world?

Supposing we want to buy a car, we go into the showroom and speak to the salesman.

We ask how much it costs.

“Never mind that, how does it make you feel?”

We ask if it’s safe.

“Never mind that, how does it make you feel?”

We ask if it will last, if it’s comfortable, what are the MPG figures like.

“Forget all that, how does it make you feel?”

I don’t know about you, but I’d walk out of the showroom and look for another car to buy.

Yet that’s exactly how we behave, like car salesmen.

Advertising has become: “Never mind facts, how does it make you feel?”

It started in 1990 with the belief that today, all products are like all other products.

So there’s no point in looking for facts, because there is no difference except brand.

And brand is pure emotion, so all we need to know about is emotion.

That makes life easier for people in advertising, just find an emotion and grab onto it.

So media carries on inside its bubble, totally out of touch with people in the real world.

Because, as Bill Bernbach might have said about advertising: “Facts are what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”