Jerry Seinfeld, who spends a lot of his time these days appearing in commercials, showed up to the Clio Awards, where they hand out awards for best commercials. There, he laid into the advertising industry with a speech that was as damning as it was funny. Seinfeld devoted practically the entire speech to how pointless and misleading commercials are, and yet, got nothing but laughs from the advertising industry in the audience.
“I love advertising because I love lying,” Seinfeld began, before later adding, “I think spending your life trying to dupe innocent people out of hard-won earnings to buy useless, low-quality, misrepresented items and services is an excellent use of your energy.”
Later in the speech, Seinfeld continued:
Because a brief moment of happiness is pretty good. I also think that just focusing on making money and buying stupid things is a good way of life. I believe materialism gets a bad rap. It’s not about the amount of money. Nothing’s better than a Bic pen, a VW Beetle, or a pair of regular Levi’s. If your things don’t make you happy, you’re not getting the right things.
So thank you all for this great honor and all your great work. I hope it makes you happy as you have made me happy for this five minutes of my life, which will last until I get to the edge of this stage, and it hits me that this was all a bunch of nonsense.
It’s a very funny speech, but it’s also insidious, in a way. While the audience of advertising execs was eating it up, I guarantee you that, if someone like Bill Hicks gave the exact same speech, word for word, that he’d have been tossed out on his ass before he’d finished the first paragraph.