The ‘Everyone’s Complaint Department’ series of comic strips began as random doodles and reflection pieces of Alvin Teoh, ECD of Naga DDB Tribal. These little stories featured in MARKETING magazine were originally posted on Facebook and are an ongoing tribute to life in Adland.
The comic depicts Alvin’s early days in the advertising industry and words from the Executive Creative Director (ECD) himself.
There are certain periods in agency life when you don’t have a life. It takes a lot of time and energy to create something of value from nothing.
You go at it till your head hurts, your eyes pop and your energy level is negative something. You’re irritable, your muscles stiffens from stress and you feel like murdering people as you anxiously wait for that moment when a big idea reveals itself.
We call it the ‘babing’ moment. A phrase used by Dustin Hoffman to describe the moment an actor gets his role right and create cinematic history. These are the magic moments we live for. But for this to happen, we need ‘simmering’ time. And here lies the biggest problem; there’s never enough of it.
We need the sort of time that allow us to stare idly at soapy water going down the sinkhole or to walk the streets and look at things with no apparent purpose because these seemingly unimportant moments are the keys that unlock that vault of ideas that materializes when you least expect it. Soon, you’re punching the air like a mad man and going ‘yes, yes, yes!’
But idle moments are a luxury and what we deal with is no secret – the volume of work, the quality of briefs, some of which can give you cancer, shifting goal posts coming from too many people with no authority to approve work but are given the chance to comment and half the time we fight over really petty and insignificant things and our self-worth falls to the level of an intestinal worm thing.
Somehow, someway, we still manage to pull through. We meet the vast majority of deadlines. And miss a few. But the job keeps coming. And when it does, we bite the bullet and hope and dream for a respite so we have the time to pursue the sort of work that really matters, both to the audience and to the soul. And while that’s all good, perhaps we’ve forgotten to ask one fundamental question:
Does the work we’re asked to do matter? Is it reflective of the change in society? Would it make an impact in people’s lives?
Perhaps if we figured this out, we can separate what seems urgent from what is actually important. Then the quantity of work will be replaced by the quality of work. And those are the sort of work that enriches lives, not disrupts them.
Yeah, that’s the stuff that matters in the end.
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