Almost 25 years ago I worked with a partner, Lisa, on a retail account. That meant that pretty much once a week, we got a brief, had to concept a bunch of ads, sell them internally, then sell them to the client. There's a lot bad you can say about retail advertising, but it does make you put the pedal to the metal. There's no time for dilly-dallying. And if you work for a place that cares about the quality of the work, the demands are pretty pressing.
This was back in the Pleistocene Era. A time in which copywriters still typed their copy on typewriters and art directors drew on a drawing table on proper tissues.
Lisa had a drawing table atop her desk, and as I sat opposite her I was facing the "high elevation" of the table. I noticed one morning that she had written on the side border of the table a small imperative, "George, do the ad."
I suppose there was a good deal of recompense working with me. For all my moods, digressions, anger and wandering, I come up with ads. And nine times out of 10, I probably came through for Lisa.
I've been thinking lately about that little demand: "George, do the ad."
That in today's marketing world, no one appreciates the people who actually do the work. The winners are the puffy pontificators who make circles magically move in powerpoint, thereby lending a false profundity to their abiding banality.
I might stop listening to Lisa someday soon.
I might not do the ad.
A few years ago I transitioned from a senior agency creative position to a client side role where I could do the same tasks, actually more because it was focused on one "brand". I have to say I haven't missed the drama one bit. I believe that after 15 or 20 years in this business, if you don't have a Plan B, you're screwed. No one is essential to any account. No one is irreplaceable. We just think we are. What advertising creatives are the worst at is managing their own careers. Advertising is a perverse muse. It's exciting, dull, challenging and replete with colorful characters. But you need a Plan B.
no one knows what they have until it's gone. That's a door that swings both ways.
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