My world rocked recently when it was revealed that Barbara Lippert was leaving Adweek for Goodby, Silverstein where she has been made “curator of pop culture.”
Yes, of course, I would have preferred that she be called a Chief Culture Officer. But it’s enough that the appointment was made.
As readers of my blog will know, I was a fan of Lippert’s weekly Adweek column on advertising. It was superb.
Stuart Elliott’s announcement of the event was marred slightly by two of the reader comments that followed it.
[I have removed these comments at Barbara Lippert’s request]
Assumption 1: that Lippert was hired as a trend spotter.
Jeff Goodby doesn’t say anything about trend spotting. In fact, Lippert has been hired as an expert on pop culture. God spare us, Goodby and Silverstein, if she fulfills her duties by spotting trends. Culture is only about 20% trends. Agencies and corporations that spend their time spotting these trends lock themselves into an endless game of catch up. Lippert is responsible for the whole of the water front of our culture, and here her age becomes an advantage.
Assumption 2: that you have to be one to know one. (Specifically, only someone who is 18-34 can report on this demographic group.)
This notion was dispatched during the political correctness debates. When members of excluded groups insisted that only they could report on these groups, the world had to remind them that the argument would cost them the right to report on any other group. They stopped.
Assumption 3: that it’s ok to trade in stereotypes about [removed at Barbara Lippert’s request].
If you were generalizing about gender, race or ethnicity in this way, the world would have put you in a small room with John Galliano, the fashion world’s ranking anti-semite.
The real question:
Is Barbara Lippert old enough to be a curator of pop culture? Has she lived, studied and observed enough to make good on the responsibility with which she’s been charged?Studying ads and the ad business for 20 years is actually an excellent perspective from which to study our culture. And she is, to judge her by her column, a real talent. My plan: wait and see.