Wednesday, June 21, 2023

A Pen-Based Blog Post.

I know I'll never work again directly for another ad agency or holding company, at least not for an extended period of time. Once agencies, including Ogilvy, looked for trouble-makers and malcontents. Those sorts of people are usually where creativity and creative environments come from. Not from collegial, collaborative "bridge builders."

George Bernard Shaw wrote in "Man and Superman," (not a Marvel movie) “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

But, unreasonable runs against the grain of the modern ad agency and our medieval backward-looking corporatist state. The putative tagline for most agencies today, or most creative enterprises, might just as well be "can't we all just get along?" Or, as an ex-client of mine once said to me, "fly low, fly slow and try not to crash."

All that said, if I were ever again to enter the agency world again, I'd never hire anyone who hadn't tried at one time or another to make it on their own. Trying to fly solo is a challenge that delivers incalculable payment to the one doing the flying. In the first place, you have to attune yourself to always be on the lookout for opportunity--no matter how wispy it might seem. And second, you have to always be working to differentiate yourself and what you do--and not just say it, show it.

A big part of working for me is walking. I turn over problems as I walk. I see jokes almost everywhere. Or hear snippets of life in the city that break the stucked-ness that sometimes plagues even the most-facile and unbound creative people. 

I think about the assignments I'm working on--and always walk with a notepad so I can write things down. Sometimes I work through an email I have to write to a client--one that has to find that precarious balance between being getting what you need from them and being a dick. Other times, I think about people I need to call to re-energize an account that's gone quiet. 

Most often, however, I think about me and GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company.

How can I get noticed by clients?

How do I differentiate myself from other freelancers and even other agencies?

How do I keep the business coming in and my day-rate in the relative stratosphere?

Of late, there's been an awful lot of yammering about people in our business about generative AI. I don't pay attention to those who pontificate about technology. Mostly because pontificators about technology are wrong about 107% of the time. Look outside. No self-driving cars. No cold-fusion monorails. No hyperloops. No flying cars. 

The people who rubbed my goat the wrong way were nominally the ad people who were rueing the not-too-distant-day when we'll all be replaced by algorithms.

Anyone who thinks they will be, should be.

Because you don't know the Square One basis of all advertising. Differentiation.

If AI does what you do you deserve to be replaced. 

Because you're doing, thinking, creating in a predictable, replicable, same-old way.

Walking just now I saw this sign.

"What the fuck are skillet-baked eggs," I asked myself. "What do I care what kind of pan my eggs are made in?"

Then I said, "That's like me saying, 'pen-based copywriter,' as my Unique Selling Proposition." That, frankly, handed me a laugh. That's not bad, I thought. And that kind of shit is everywhere. Walk through the supermarket, even a crappy C-Town and you'll see, "Steel-cut oats," "Grass-fed beef," "Sun-ripened raisins." And about one-thousand other demarcations that attempt to take the parity out of parity-hood.

Naturally, there's more to differentiation than just saying you're "skillet-baked." But if you're out there hustling for work--whether you're a freelancer, an agency or a client, you have to ask, "what makes me different and special? Why should anyone notice me? Why should anyone care?"

These questions are the sine qua non--the essential essentialness of life itself.

I'll be blunt.

I'll be an asshole.

That's another of my unique selling propositions.

There are about 93 million people who can do what you do and maybe a few dozen trillion machines. Someone will always be cheaper. Someone will always be faster. Someone will always be more obedient.

Why you?

Now, go take a hike. And don't come back until you have something.

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