The question of anonymity is generating some heat in my little corner of the blogosphere today.
It started with a post over at Marketing Conversations which observed that when social media types blog they give you all of their contact info: their emails, their places on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter... and that, by contrast, most ad industry bloggers post anonymously.
Agency Spy threw out a call to ad bloggers this morning: Why are you anonymous? and Daily Biz admitted in an eloquent post that his main reason for anonymity was so he could write about a co-worker he had a crush on without letting her know. (He's since blown his cover--to no avail.)
Agency Tart guessed that anonymity=her job because You can’t really cut and paste internal emails on the internet and have your boss be okay with that. (She's right to worry. Check this out, one of her many hilarious cut & paste email posts.)
Tangerine Toad, sagely observed in a comment that 'out' bloggers (e.g. Ian Schafer, George Parker, Joseph Jaffe) work for themselves while those of us who remain anonymous work for somebody else.
Jane Sample concurred (in inimitable Jane style): Being anonymous gives you more freedom in your writing... Man, if I think of the watered down shit I would be writing under my own name …. ugh.
Where's My Jetpack protested I’m not THAT anonymous. A few links on my blog reveal who I am. (Really?)
On a FAQ page for Multicultclassics, HighJive attributes his anonymity to avoiding the political retaliation that often accompanies speaking the truth.
Why is Ad Broad anonymous? For much the same reason. I don't want to have to tote a company line which I'd feel beholden to do if I were "out" and fearful of blogging the hands that feed me. (How does Scamp do it?) Plus, I don't want coworkers, bosses, friends clamming up in my presence, suspicious that I am looking to libel them.
And let's not forget that, like all copywriters, I'm accustomed to writing under an assumed name. Ads don't have bylines.
If I were a journalist or social media type, I'd eagerly post my real name in the hopes that some eagle-eyed editor (do editors read these things?) might contact me for an assignment or a book proposal, even. If I were a journalist, I'd have something to gain. But what do I gain by giving Ad Broad my name? Who ever heard of an ad agency CD hiring a freelance writer on the strength of her blog? From an agency's POV, blogging isn't added value, it's a giant red flag of a liability: no agency fancies running the risk of letting its underwear flap in the blogosphere.
Tonight, in a comment on DailyBiz, the writer of the original post, Jonathan Tannen (presumably not an ad guy, writing under his own name) said: I love the fact that I have no idea who most of you are. But there’s a certain sadness to it... For a supposed push-the-envelope industry, sticking one’s neck out individually seems to invite derision.
True, the ad business may be a push-the-envelope industry, but those of us in it know it's not exactly populous with push-the-envelope types-- genuine renegades aren't generally good at coping with commutes and time sheets and deadlines and dress codes. To survive in this business, you've got to make yourself fairly agreeable-- able to endure inane client comments, endless copy revisions, impossible deadlines, counterintuitive research results that kill a spot in production.
So I don't think it's sad that ad bloggers are anonymous. I think it's fortunate, a matter of survival. We've got a place to vent our true thoughts and feelings without the risk of being fired or shot. Take Joker who must have had a meeting today with clients from hell. Without his blog, he might be in custody for manslaughter.