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The battle for the marketing heartland reached its showdown.

The Evidencers had marched south to crush the Trads. Purposes looked on from the mountains in the east, Biases from the river in the west. Digitals floated around like a cloud.

But the Trads, they had a strategy.

Turned out they’d been listening. To the fireballs of Trott, Tannenbaum and Hoffman, the cussings of Sheriff Ritson. And to Bill, their leader, who came and went as he pleased to remind them of the truth.

Out of that came a job to be done. Get people from all the other tribes to join them in the long grass.

And an insight. Everyone’s the same, they all want to be different. So talk to the crazy one in everyone. Trad is Rad.

Excitement grew in the camp, the thrill of a new idea. They knew there were soldiers across the land who would hear their call, as long as the message could reach them.

But out of nowhere, the mood changed.

The Trads had always been readers and writers, that was their way. Time was when they’d sit around the fire trying to outdo each other with stories of the 80’s. Now they sat on their own, sending out blogs and tweets and comments and replies. Some days all you could hear was the clicking of keys.

The first bombshell to arrive came from the island, from Sheriff Ritson. ‘Want a job? Pretend you believe in ‘digital marketing’.’ It was funny as always and the same point as always. Don’t put the digital cart before the strategic horse.

But the advice was strange. Say whatever it takes about digital to get a job, then try to change things once you’re in.

Most of the Trads were still puzzling over that one when the second arrived. It was Trott. ‘There’s no point teaching advertising’. No point because ad agencies no longer wanted the kind of advertising people like him were selling. All they wanted was a pun and a visual.

So forget about analysing, listening, questioning, working out the answer, making it different. Style it out on Tik Tok.

Then came Tannenbaum and ‘Belief’. Or rather ‘The systematic evaporation of belief’, because we no longer believe in our clients, their products, even our country. The world is galloping into a new Dark Ages.

It all smelt like defeat. But the worst was when Hoffman’s arrived. ‘How adtech helped to radicalise the US’.

The Ad Contrarian had been brewing this one up for a long while. Blog after blog that called out Facebook and the real purpose of their algorithims, to keep you “inside the corral”. Because the more time they kept you there, the more they can make from selling ad space.

But this went further. Those algorithims drive people apart, all the way through to extremist groups. The Facebook logo should be a divide symbol. And we’re all part of it, we’re all to blame.

The Trads sat stunned. It was only January. They’d survived the first wave of the Great Pandemic, were managing to hang on through the second, despite attack after attack from the other tribes. Now the very ground on which they stood was shaking.

Then Bill turned up, like he always did, and he’d brought a friend with a battered guitar, Telecaster body and an Esquire neck. They started to sing the old song, except this time it sounded a little sad:

Badlands, you gotta live it every day / Let the broken hearts stand as the price you’ve gotta pay

Keep pushin’ ‘til it’s understood / And these badlands start treating us good


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