Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I've been reading the word "agnostic" a lot again (or still) lately, and just about every time I find it kind of annoying. Maybe it's because it's just jargon and all jargon (and marketing jargon in particular) is annoying (for the obvious reason that it's a lazy replacement for a more precise and thoughtful description) but I think there is something especially annoying about the use of the term which I'd describe as an exaggerated pretense to open-mindedness.

The assertion of channel-agnostic approaches or media-agnostic solutions or agnosticality in general is, I think, supposed to suggest a marketers willingness to embrace any potential solution vs. the one that used to make the agency the most money, but in almost every case, the marketer in question is really asserting his or her place among the new guard and privileging new media over old.

If agnosticism just means thinking about the best solution, shouldn't agnosticism be cost of entry when it comes to media planning? If media planning involves any planning at all? And/or if the contemporary use of the word is supposed to assert the agency's willingness to forgo the most profitable media choices in the interest of the client's business, what does this mean when it comes from a digital agency spokesperson? Does it mean that they might recommend television ads if they determine that's the best solution?

And is it worth at least acknowledging the fact that that agnosticism, in it's original philosophical sense, is really about skeptical doubt and the impossibility of knowing a particular thing because of limited information, when the very thing marketing strategist are supposed to do is provide POV's based on evidence and experience. How agnostic is that?

Okay, maybe that's irrelevant, but it adds to my multi-leveled irritation about the use of the word in our biz. It's competing with "dimensionalize" for relative unbearability for me, but I'm sure you all have your favorites as well.


Paul Soldera said...

I thought it meant 'we're not getting as many kick-backs as we used to so we don't really care what media you use'. No?

sk said...

Good point, Paul. Maybe the not so secret history of advertising is really shaped by the shifting ebb and flow of kick-backs.