Physician Heal Thyself.

( – by Paul J Loosley

I met a very bright and erudite young man the other day at a lunch gathering.

Next semester will be his third and final year reading MassCom at a local university.

Our conversation got around to advertising, as he knew my history and he was looking at picking advertising as a career.

I asked whether he had read any books on advertising, he said, “not really”. Had he heard of David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, David Abbott, Rosser Reeves? He said, “not really”. Had he ever seen any of the great ads like the VW or Hathaway shirts ads? He said, “not really”.

Gradually, I began to understand why advertising is in such a parlous and poorly state; and it is no fault of this boy and the dozens, possibly hundreds like him. (Be assured, as soon as I got home, I sent him a long list of books he should read, and a bunch of ads garnered from the interweb that he should check out).

As we parted after about 30 minutes of conversation; he said, “I have learned more talking to you over the last few minutes than I have learned about advertising after two years in college”.

This was both very flattering, but intensely worrying. I have been around a while and know some stuff, but I’m no Louis Pasteur.

Now, this could be an isolated incident, but I don’t think so. I am sure that if you ask the same questions about advertising’s past luminaries and written works, to people already in the workforce, you would probably get the same bilious look of blankness and incomprehension.

I have certainly come across quite a few MassCom grads, and by no means all simply juniors, who are already in the workforce, yet couldn’t find their arse in the dark with both hands.

I believe I have talked before about the lack of acquired learning in the advertising industry; how architecture, law, medicine and other professions have reams of material, swarms of teachers drawn from the industry, all making these careers highly preferred choices.

But, while no-one ever died nor went to jail over a bad ad, it appears little is done to add gravitas to advertising as a profession.

More or less on his deathbed, David Ogilvy said his only real regret in life is that advertising never rose to the same level of respect, as these other professions.

The temptation is, of course, to criticize the institutes of higher learning for not having the reference, the books or the tutors to properly guide the students.

The contact I have had with the teaching of advertising has been enough to make you feel unwell.

The courses themselves are usually superficial and really just a means to an end; that is, a degree or diploma to hang on the wall or to flash in front of an HR person who is simply ticking boxes.

Startlingly, many tutors are often recent graduates themselves, with no actual workplace experience.

As usual, I lay much of the blame at the feet of the industry itself. But……

To read the full article get your hands on MARKETING Magazine’s July-August 2016 issue.

Paul Loosley is an English person who has been in Asia 38 years, 12 as a Creative Director, 20 making TV commercials. And in recent years, a brand consultant. And still, for some strange reason, he can’t shut-up about advertising. Any feedback; mail [email protected]

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