Thursday, June 19, 2008
The Old Man and the Agency.
I like Ernest Hemingway. Not in a brawling, drunken, punch Wallace Stevens in the nose and break my hand in two places kind of way. Not in a macho big two-hearted river kind of way. But in a clean, well-lighted our nada who art in nada kind of way.
I often think that Hemingway's novella, The Old Man and the Sea, can teach us in the ad industry a thing or two. First off, The Old Man and the Sea is a pretty damn good story--I'll get to that in a sec. But first, consider for a second that this book, which is about life, pride, defeat, despair, courage, the great DiMaggio and fortitude is, at just 68-pages, shorter than about 98% of all the decks that agencies create. If Hemingway "took the time to make it short," why can't we, when we're selling salad dressing be as brief.
Second, the old man knows that "Anyone can be a fisherman in May." But it takes a special fortitude to be one in September when the great fish come. In other words, you prove your mettle in the business when you survive and prosper when the going is tough. Lesson three is the drought. The old man has caught no fish for eighty-four days. But he goes out on the eighty-fifth day. We have days of lousy client meetings. Political bs. Killed ads. Days when you feel like you suck. But you come back the next day. As the old man said, "But man is not made for defeat...A man can be destroyed but not defeated." I think that's good.
Posted by George Tannenbaum at 9:23 PM