People who go dark inside at the thought of New Year’s Eve, those are my people.
Friends of mine have left New Year’s parties at 10 minutes to midnight to walk out by themselves on the beach in LA to face the stars and the waves at the big moment. Looking back, those have been my best friends, not the ones who stayed on the dance floor. I’ve been that person standing on the beach at midnight, feet in the ocean, eyes pinned on the stars & moon several times, looking for what I can’t tell you. Once it was my own party I left.
I was on Interstate 70 between Denver and Copper Mountain on New Year’s Eve in a snowstorm once. A trucker headed East blew his horn at midnight. I waved, uselessly, but with great feeling. Driving by yourself on New Year’s Eve sets a person up just right who’s prone to dark thoughts, even though I was driving to a party at a ski house.
This is all New Years is to me:
You can’t consume it.
You can’t grasp it.
You can’t know it.
You can’t do anything with it.
In the moment it arrives it is leaving.
It is in motion, undoing itself while it goes.
It builds nothing, is part of nothing, leads to nothing.
Why am I bringing this up?
I swear it’s not just to bring you down.
We aren’t putting stuff like this into ads.
I think that’s a mistake.
I think people who make ads are getting drawn more and more away from telling the truth as we know it.
People are walking around dying inside for someone to come along and say Man, I hate New Year’s Eve, don’t you?
But we’re not speaking to that part of them as much as we used to.
Maybe we’re not speaking to them at all as much as we once did.
And, truly, there are also people walking around dying to hear the exact opposite as well—something funny/light/warm/dizzy/smart/crackling that you can think of, you who are different and better and younger or older or wiser or faster or less abstract than me.
The point isn’t whether the math brings you down or draws you onto the dance floor.
The point is: use what’s real to you.
There isn’t a company on earth that doesn’t need more connection to the human beings who buy its product, would buy its product, or would at least be willing to stop lampooning people who they see buying the product.
I’m not the only one who goes interior at New Years.
I could hear at least half of you nodding yes about your best friends not being on the dance floor at midnight.
We want to be outside of time.
Time is holding something inside of us down.
New Years excites that feeling.
Stirs it up.
Makes you walk outside into the dark and the cold and look for lights.
You can’t put that into an ad straight, though.
(If that worked, heck, consumer-generated content would be worth watching)
To bring an audience what it hasn’t specifically chosen to consider you have to bend something.
You hold it up straight they have a right to say so what?
You have to bend the right thing the right amount at the right time without knowing from anywhere outside yourself what the right thing to bend is until you bend it.
You have to take a chance that what it occurs to you to say is what an audience wants to hear.
Since audiences want always something new something new something new, you’ve got to stop trying to make copies of what has already been and start getting ahead of them.
How do you get ahead?
At midnight this New Year’s Eve, or, truly, any time in any place, whatever news you’ve got that’s true, that needs saying, bend it some & tell it.
Happy New math.