Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oatmeal. And advertising.

Like many people my wife and I make oatmeal for breakfast, not the super processed "Quick" oats that respond in a flash to boiling water, and not some fancy-schmancy steel-cut oat imported from free range farms that are managed by artisinal oat farmers. Just normal Quaker original oats "Old Fashioned" in the large drum with the Quaker on the front. Oats are a pretty utilitarian breakfast, hot, healthy and filling and neither of us have to get all Park Slope about them. The oats we ate as children are good enough for us as oldsters.

This morning I noticed something about life because of the way my wife cooks the oatmeal as opposed to the way I cook oatmeal.

My wife looks at the recipe, measures the ingredients out and sets a timer to the time the box tells her to set. Nothing wrong with that.

I, on the other hand, measure things by eye-sight and boil, stir and mix accordingly.

No offense to my wife, often times when she follows the recipe exactly her oatmeal comes out like shit. It lumps and clumps like the oatey-equivalent of a cement dust-bunny. When I upbraid her about this, her response is invariably the same: "I followed the recipe. I set the timer."

It seems to me that there are similarly two types of practitioners in the advertising business.

There are the "recipe-followers" and the "eye-sighters."

The recipe-followers adhere to a prescription. A timeline. A set of best-practices. When all those planets align according to their dicta, we fold our tents and pronounce our work done. Qualitative concerns are of secondary importance. The scope is met. The work is complete.

The eye-sighters put their hands in the batter. Or their spoon in the oatmeal. They mix, they add, they experiment. They spend more time in front of the concoction. They don't watch a clock. They mind their mind. The "food" is cooked when it is done to their satisfaction.

Obviously, I think our business is better when it is run by eye-sighters.

Unfortunately, most holding companies follow recipes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like Steely Dan, who put their session musicians through hell to get it performed precisely, then once they managed to do that, put them through hell backwards to get it played right, there's a lesson in that.