Two things always bug me when it comes to the typical blogrant/article/argument about brands, media, the future, all that stuff. The first is one we all recognise but find it hard to resist. It's the tendency to argue that they arrival of X will cause the total eradication of Y. The internet will destroy television. Phones will destroy MP3 players. Curry will destroy chips. (That didn't happen did it?)
We all do this. I do it. You get carried away with rhetoric and enthusiasm and forget that the likely scenario will be that everything will be a blurry munge like it was before, with this new element added in. This BusinessWeek article does a kind of variant on it - Stop Doing X Because Y Is The Answer - but it's forgivable because he's trying to make a persuasive point.
But it's the second fallacy (which probably has a name and if I knew anything about logic or rhetoric I'd tell you it) that really annoys me. It's the tendency to compare good examples from the category you like with the bad examples from the category you don't. So again, in the same article from BusinessWeek, Mr Gobe seems to be comparing AT&T/Cingular's marketing with Apple's product design and ethos. (He also chucks in Crispin's Orville Redenbacher stuff). He deduces from all this that Advertisers Still Don't Get It. Well, blimey, isn't that a bit of a leap? Isn't that a bit like comparing a really bad round of golf with a really great game of tennis at tennis and concluding that golf is a worse sport than tennis? Obviously AT&Ts advertising is worse than Apple's product design. That's not because advertising is inherently a worse thing to do than design a great product, it's because AT&T are bad at it. How about we compare Nike's advertising with Amstrad's product design? What would that tell us? Mr Gobe makes a bunch of good points about the value of an emotional connection built into the product but he spoils it all with his specious comparisons. I don't know maybe he's got a book to sell or something.
This happens in the new media/old media debate all the time. People compare Tribal's brilliant Monopoly campaign, say, with the average rubbishy TV toy ad and go ah-ha! look digital wins! digital's better! No - something that's good is better than something that's bad. Of course, this is like shooting fish in a barrel with advertising because so much of it's rubbish, but so is most digital stuff, so is most television and journalism and art and everything. And more digital stuff will become rubbish as it broadens, enters the mainstream and more of it is done by (by definition) more average people.
Maybe it's a sign that old media / new media debate is still immature and unformed that this still goes on. (And again, I bet I've done it). But I suspect if we really want to think hard about the best tools to use to serve customers, build brands, have fun, we're going to have to get used to comparing the very best in one channel with the very best in another. Not good with bad. Maybe that doesn't happen because there's not enough talent around for a single organisation to be able to offer the very best in multiple channels but if I were a brand-owner that's what I'd like to see offered to me.