How would Plato PPC? (Part III)

I’ve written a few previous pieces about how Plato would PPC. Plato is the first big-time and greatest thinker in the western canon, which of course doesn’t mean he is the most correct, it just means that he cast a shadow in which all thinkers since have lived. So we could write most of this “How would they PPC?” series on different aspects of Plato’s ideas.

Indeed, that’s what I’m doing today, in the third series, by focusing on one particular idea of his that he proposes in the Symposium. The Symposium was a “hypothetical” drunken dinner where the greatest thinkers of Athens at the time got together and each one shared their theory as to what “love” is. One classic speech–the one we’ll dive into today–is the one that Plato attributed to Aristophanes. Plato argued that all humans originally had two heads, four arms, four heads, they were like big bouncy balls that bounced all over the place. Zeus then split the bodies in half and you spend your entire life seeking the other half that you were originally one person together with. Weirdly romantic, eh?

To be clear, while Aristophanes did exist and was one of the great comics and playwrights of his era, this story that Plato attributes to him was written by Plato (according to the best understanding we have today). There are a few interesting lessons for PPC’s from Aristophanes’ speech.

Lesson number 1: always have a sense of humor.

Aristophanes was a comic playwright indeed, he wrote the classic Lysistrata, in which the women of Greece agreed to stop f—ing their husbands until the husbands stopped all the wars being fought between all the Greek city-states. Was this story of the origin of love that he recounted his real theory, or was he having drunken fun with a fun story? Looked at with literary eyes–no one knows. Looked at with philosophical eyes–no one knows. Looked at with scientific eyes–understanding love is outside the bounds of even the best neuroscientists out there. But my take is that it is a humorous story and there is a key lesson here: maintain your humor at all times. This is especially important in PPC when you have intense clients, intense pressure, and the demand for results. Even within campaigns you need to feel wacky and have wacky ideas. If you lose your sense of wackiness, all your campaigns will turn into generic boilerplate, and in that case–why are you being hired? May as well hire a robot to do your work then.

Lesson number 2: viewing the other-side from the eyes of “destiny meant to unite us” is a very powerful angle.

Think about the implications of this for your ad copy and landing pages! It’s not just, “Here’s a shampoo that’s healthy for your hair”. But, with the subtext of the universe intending the viewer to use this particular shampoo, you can come up with campaigns like, “The shampoo meant for flakey, dandruffy hair… just like yours”. Would this sort of ad work better or worse, than a generic one? I don’t know, you never know, which is why you need to test. But my instinct based on my experience is that sometimes ads with either playful language or with a subtext of how perfect the product is, work well, as though destined by Zeus himself. Ideas inspired by Aristophanes’ creativity.

Lesson number 3: these same techniques could work well in the client management universe.

It’s one thing when you work well with your client. It’s another thing when your work jives together when your skills, attitudes, and approaches complement each other so well. That’s when mere “work” transforms into amazingness that conquers markets. Listen to how in-love anyone who ever worked with Steve Jobs sounds in the way they talk about working with Steve Jobs. He knew something about managing people that normies don’t.

So, in conclusion, would Plato be a good PPC? My answer is that Plato still wouldn’t–for the same reasons I argued in my previous pieces on Plato as a PPC–but perhaps Aristophanes would. Aristophanes had a flair for insight into human nature and style, in a way that created deep engagement with the audiences. Especially in the copywriting aspect. Perhaps I should write another series, How would the great writers write ad copy?

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