"We've totally lost the art of psychological manipulation," said former advertising executive Harvey Partridge, bemoaning the deterioration of commercial advertising. "These days, it's all about selling something. I just didn't feel good about it anymore."
As Partridge tells it, at the time that he first embarked on his much-lauded advertising career, beginning in the marketing department of tobacco company R.J. Reynolds, aesthetics, subtlety and wit were genuinely prized when it came to pushing the company's cancer-causing products.
"Yes, of course we cared about selling cigs," said Partridge, "but more than that, we wanted to create stunning visual imagery that would linger with the consumer just as chronically as their smoking-related health issues. We took real pride in that."
These days, though, says Partridge, that nuance and subtlety have all but evaporated; commercials make no pretense about being artistically relevant and, instead, bluntly and shamelessly "hit the viewer over the head" with their products.
"Like bulls in a china shop," said Partridge. "It's a real shame. There's no honor in it anymore."
It was for all of these reasons that Partridge, a few years ago, made the decision to leave the advertising industry altogether and go to work as a political lobbyist.
"The annual bonuses can fluctuate, but at least now, I'm part of a system that values integrity," said Partridge. "That means a lot to me."