Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Somewhere along the way.

No, this is not a send up of Manifesto videos which almost always start with the phrase "Somewhere along the way." This is a post about an central advertising disconnect. And it's all prompted by an article I ran across in "The Economist" called "Overstretched." With a subhead: "Many people who kept their jobs are working too hard. What can companies do about it?"

What advertising companies can and will do about it is nothing, and here's why. Somewhere along the way the people that run and manage agencies stopped being people who have actually created ads. Worse than that, they aren't even interested in how ads are made or what it takes to make them. (BTW, I use the word "ad" broadly, meaning any creative output from any sort of agency.)

According to the lofty-sounding "Corporate Leadership Council," a consultancy group that surveys 1,100 companies each quarter, our "job footprint," that is, what you're supposed to produce has increased by 33% since the start of the recession. Meanwhile, pay isn't just frozen, it has hypothermia. And perks?

I am producing a 50-page or so "Brand Book" for a client. That's a lot of work. I have a producer on it who's never produced a bit of print in his life. Can he help me see this piece to its logical conclusion? No, all he can do is annoy me by asking every 17 minutes or so, "where is it."

Years ago a boss of mine told me a story about when he was partnered with an excellent and highly awarded Art Director named Ted Shaine. Year after year Shaine won assorted gold in The One Show. (Before your ad had to be about pet training to qualify for entry.) Shaine told him "I just have to produce one ad a year."

Surely, and I guess thankfully those days, too, are done.

But somewhere along the way people--not ad people--have conflated us with the machines we work on.

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