Why is Bob Hoffman so unimpressed by VMLY&R?

The estimable Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman is away for a while on vacation so he’s left us with some parting thoughts about the ad business. One item to catch his attention is WPP agency VMLY&R’s new schtick “human-centered design.”

Obvious enough surely but this variant depends on A1. Here’s what Bob has to say:

Agency Discovers It’s All About Humans

The agency with the most awful name in history, VMLY&R, has discovered a new recipe for “empathy and humanity.” It’s called “human-centered design.” Apparently, before VMLY&R came along, design was not human-centered – it was centered on penguins or ducks or something.

If you’re in the mood to choke on a smorgasbord of platitudinous tripe about “empowerment” and “empathy” you won’t want to miss this.

According to the article, it turns out that “human-centered design is all about understanding…humans.” Which, I guess, if we had sat down and really thought about it we might have realized.

I know AI is, like, totally awesome, but I never realized that “artificial intelligence will be key to unlocking empathy” because, you know, artificial intelligence is so, you know, human.

So if I understand all this human-centered design stuff correctly, it’s critically important that your brand has a sense of warmth and humanity to it and assiduously avoids things that seem contrived, dry, and wooden, for example, a stupid fucking name like VMLY&R.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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