Every revolution has its reactionaries. I was going to respond to Kendall Allen’s article The Math State, but didn’t, for a few reasons: it wasn’t convincing enough to need a response, I’ve stated my answer to the objection elsewhere, and Joe Zawadzki is a better writer than I am.
I want to note, though, that when I accepted an offer to work at Omnicom, some 15 years ago, I was handed a copy of Peppers and Rogers. This was the future, I was told, One to One Marketing. Some six years later the Economist wrote that “the marketing department is the last part of the modern corporation to resist automation.” It’s interesting that after so many years of wishing for it, the industry starts to object as soon as it becomes plausible.
This new math state is not new. It is a stage in a journey that some of us have been taking for more than a decade and one that will take another decade to reach its apotheosis. For those who don’t like it, I’ll trundle out the old Rosser Reeves quote that everyone in the agency world says they believe but that few really do:
What do you want out of me? Fine writing? Do you want masterpieces? Do you want glowing things that can be framed by copywriters? Or do you want to see the goddamned sales curve stop moving down and start moving up?
– Reality in Advertising, R. Reeves, 1961.