Everyone’s Complaint Department: Occupational Hazard.

2 years ago

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.

If it’s not already known, I have 2 wives. My first is a wonderful woman who’s given me three wonderful kids.

More than a wife, she’s a companion, a friend, a travel buddy and my most ardent supporter who also plays the role of my p.a.

My second wife, the lesser known one, is my laptop. And like how marriages are described in scripture – ‘What God has put together, man shall not put asunder’, the laptop and me are also inseparable to the extent that I also sleep with it. Gosh.

Here’s a part of our jobs that causes heated debates – work-life balance; where is the separation?

I’m all for the separation of work and life, yet I feel it’s an illusion as far as this industry is concerned because ours is not so much a job as it is a mirror of life.

I’m not referring to the daily stuff where we bleed and loose our sanity over banner permutations and arguments over word-count on a space 3cm across or going suicidal because someone in authority insists that bad grammar is the way to go for a social post. I can go on but that’s not the point. I’m talking about life.

When I am on a trip, when I am people-watching or having a conversation with my wife and kids, or my dog, when I am alone with my guide on a trek, when I am ordering breakfast in an old kopitiam or even when I am taking a midnight stroll and star-gazing, when there are stars to be gazed upon, life happens and where life is, ideas and insights are aplenty.

These are the things that matter. Our chief calling is not to be trend-chasers and snake-oil salesmen.

It’s more about presenting a point of view about the experience of being human and to create in our audience, a feeling, ignite a thought and perhaps inspire them to respond.

And how do we do this exactly? There is no sure way, I’m sorry.

But perhaps we can start by thinking as a human being instead of a marketer or adman and see work embedded in life and vice versa.

The experience of being a husband and a parent, of being a son and a pedestrian, a traveller, a fan of the silver screen, a Malaysian, a boss, ahem, has given more insights about life than all the stuff I’ve read and researched on.

What is seen as an occupational hazard, I see it as an occupational blessing. These are the things that last.

One day when I am dead and gone, I hope people will look upon some of the stuff I’ve done and say – ‘hey, there’s soul in that work. I see life. I get it.’ That would be nice.

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