Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I worked for an imbecile once who said that these days creating advertising was like making a movie. There is today attached to everything from a :60-second anthem spot costing millions of dollars to a Val-Pak statement stuffer, a credits list of participants as long as your arm. As long as your arm even if you're an NBA power forward.

Right now I am in close cahoots with a very talented art-director who knows what he's doing. He knows how to make work work. He's smart and compendious and has an opinion backed up by experience and fact.

With all modesty, I think I'm somewhat the same way.

He and I get handed a problem, we work and derive interesting ways to solve that problem and express a solution.

My art-director and I do this unencumbered by others. We sit and stew until we have something likable.

Then it comes time to show our labor to clients.

All at once, seemingly from nowhere, the non-entities appear like roaches in an East Harlem tenement.

The planners show up (though they've done no planning.)
The producers arrive (though we've done all the producing.)
Legions of media people.
Account people.
Sundry supervisors.

Suddenly, the two of us, my art-director and I, two unassuming guys, have a posse.

There's been much written and much hand-wringing about the costs of advertising agencies today. Much of that cost accrues because we have, as an industry, eliminated accountability. We have forgotten to periodically look at our people and say, "You cost this agency $X. You make this agency $X less Y. You, therefore, are fired."

If we could introduce such cold Romney-an calculus to our business, our business might be good again.

The people who do the work would be rewarded.

The people who pile on would be at Starbucks.


Jess Hutton said...

You made me Google "compendious" - bravo!

Anonymous said...

Won't happen. The simple reason is that agencies shit themselves of losing a client and clients shit themselves of handing their multigazilliontrillion dollar business over to two unassuming schmucks (no offense). Hence the mitigation of responsibility at every corner until there's no shred of accountability left.

That's why on all job interviews, there are at least two, if not three, people involved. If you get hired and fuck up, there can be at least two or more people to blame. "Yeah, I wasn't quite sure, but once arms-covered-in-tattoos-AD and Account Bimbo #2 gave their okay, I reluctantly hired him/her."

But I'll stop preaching to the choir now.

george tannenbaum said...

Anonymous, of course you're right. It will never happen. But my point remains.