Last Friday I wrote a post about a dinner I had with two ad friends of a certain age. At dinner we talked about some things that have gone wrong in our industry. I wondered, having written this and having gotten well-over 11,000 views, if my post were a little one-sided.
Sure, there’s a lot in our industry, and in our world, that’s gone wrong. And there’s a lot that is topsy-turvy, where, in the words of the Bard, fair is foul and foul is fair. But there’s also a lot that’s ok.
It’s fairly normal these days to overlook things that are going right in the world—and obsess instead on the almost daily stream of horror. But in fact, never has the world been less violent. Never have more people been escaping disease and poverty. Never have more people been literate. You need only read a bit of Steven Pinker or watch this short video by the late Hans Rosling to understand what I'm asserting:
And here's the thing, I think we can find some wonderful points our business, too, if we look hard enough. That said, here are some positive things I've seen in our business over the last 35 years or so.
We are an industry populated with extraordinarily smart people. Old, young and in-between, the people I get to work with teach me new things every day, and they often do it with humor and kindness.
At our best, we pull together and support each other. It's late at night and there's a big meeting tomorrow. Often you'll find your co-workers a non-gendered band-of-siblings--a team that watches your back and works as one.
We have extraordinary power in our minds and hands. It doesn't happen often, but on occasion our industry creates a bit of work that influences culture, changes hearts and drives sales. This is our power. If we believe in our craft we can do it with more regularity.
We have fun. It doesn't happen as often as it should, and the business gets about 17% more uptight with each passing annum, but when things go right--as they do at times--you'll see smiles and hear laughter in the halls.
We work to get better. Like every industry, we have our issues. We are by no means perfect. But even in advertising, as Dr. King said, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." We might move too slowly, and we have far to go, but most people, I think, are trying.
There are, I'm sure, some other things, but that's it for now. Forgive me for searching for hope and optimism.