Friday, January 11, 2008


That stands for What Would Frederick Winslow Taylor do?

For those of you who don't know him, Taylor has done more to change the Advertising industry than Bill Bernbach, David Ogilvy, Jay Chiat and the ever-so-dreamy Alex Bogusky.

Taylor was a proponent of the management system that dominates agency life today. Oh! You think I'm kidding, don't you? But because agencies adhere to his dicta, everything sucks.

What Taylor did was take a mechanical operation and break it down into piece parts. Then he alloted each piece part a duration. So, for instance, digging a hole is made up of 100 shovel-fulls--each action can be broken down thusly:
Insert shovel in dirt, 1 second.
Fill shovel blade with dirt, 2 seconds.
Lift shovel to waist height, 2 seconds.
Rotate at hips, 1 second.
Empty dirt into wheelbarrow, 2 seconds.
So the total digging action takes 8 seconds.
100 shovel-fulls create a hole.
A hole takes 800 seconds.
If you are faster than 800 seconds you are a good worker.
If you are slower you get fired and then get rickets and die malnourished.

This is how advertising works today.
This long to write a brief.
This long to come up with concepts.
And so it goes.
The deconstruction of inspiration into component parts.

I gotta go.
I have an ad to write.


T said...

(Taylor, Principles of Scientific Management, cited by Montgomery 1989:229, italics with Taylor)
Workers were supposed to be incapable of understanding what they were doing. According to Taylor this was true even for rather simple tasks. "'I can say, without the slightest hesitation,' Taylor told a congressional committee, 'that the science of handling pig-iron is so great that the man who is ... physically able to handle pig-iron and is sufficiently phlegmatic and stupid to choose this for his occupation is rarely able to comprehend the science of handling pig-iron."
(Montgomery 1989:251)

Thus he also declared that all work must be managed. so for every worker there was a manager.
however, in advertising that went further. For every art director and copywriter there were 20 managers.
Managers also have to be managed.

geo said...

Pretty good, right?