Guilty as charged…
‘Yes, I’m work in advertising.’ This opening remark will draw a variety of responses depending on where you are, what time of the day or night it is, what you’re wearing, and the list goes on.
Almost everybody has got some-thing to say about advertising and the people who work in it.
Advertisements: an ever-present guest in the home, making loud splashes for even mundane everyday products, always screaming for attention along the highways and coaxing today’s consumer with the ideal solutions to their needs.
That’s probably why everybody has got something to say about it.
But what is the advertising person like?
Is he or she eccentric, brilliant like Einstein, an egoist, multi-lingual, a passionate speaker, a fuss-pot, a restless insomniac, a road-devil, a dashing crowd-stopper, a workaholic, alcoholic, or just living in a world devoid of reality?
All these colourful and sometimes zany perceptions have fired the imagination of many people who are not involved with the ad business.
Then again, just who is this person who cooks up ideas, flies all over the place and works feverishly around the clock?
Do advertising people surrender their energies, time and space for the love of the job or do they hunger for lots of money?
They generally work very hard because the profession itself is a demanding one. Anyone who is breezing through is probably not doing much or is an insignificant player in the whole mix.
Ad people work hard and play hard.
They practically block out every-thing else from their mind and concentrate only on the job at hand. This state of suspended anxiety follows them wherever they go, at all times of the day and night.
After all, an idea can pop up anywhere: in the shower, in a pub or even while having a violent argument with someone.
These curious creatures also work best when they get a feel for the product, experience it first-hand and then create a strategic statement about it, one that can inspire the advertising direction.
I remember one client, who always insisted the agency personnel drive his new automobile product before even putting ink to paper.
This is especially relevant in advertising, where you have to know your stuff inside out. You obviously have to convince yourself first, before you can convince someone else.
Busy is the buzzword in this industry. Ad people are always ‘busy’.
It’s a constant level of nervous excitement that somehow propels them to perform better.
Missing meals, rushing through work and living on the edge of deadlines, they definitely are a bad example for the wise adage: no worry, no hurry, no curry.
Many outsiders to the business are bewildered by the rebellious tattered jeans, earrings on a bald head, earrings and bangles every-where else, sported by some odd ad guys and shake their heads in disbelief when told this dress code is OK if you’re in advertising. Some wear turbans!
Normally, this motley crew comes from the Creative Department and should not be confused with their executive-looking counterparts in Account Service (also known as ‘Suits’).
On the social front, the outgoing types feel at home talking to a bus conductor one minute and chatting up a luscious number at a fancy cocktail the next. After all, aren’t they supposed to be experts on what the customer wants? And what better way than to be in the thick of things, touching the pulse of the populace, keeping in tune with the times and joie de vivre, as it were..
Who was it who said that the first law in advertising is to advertise oneself?
The advertising game may look like lots of fun, but there’s always mountains of serious work going on behind the scenes. One has to be logical, mentally disciplined and possess a large reservoir of strategic vision in order to make the idea fly.
For the dedicated ad pro, his job is both a science and an art. It is the very essence of his life. The world of ‘The Big Idea’. A lifelong pursuit for the perfect ad, the breakthrough idea and finally, to create a little advertising history for posterity.
Memorable campaigns have touched people’s lives for generations, skillfully-punned brandnames and turn-of-phrase slogans have outlived even their creators.
To the layman of course, all this may not hold such a profound implication.
Here’s a possible everyday scenario: imagine a retired ad guy telling his grandson one day, “You know child, your Grandpa wrote the tag-line for Coca-Cola and it helped sell millions of drinks.”
And the little one could very well turn around and continue, “Sure, but when are you taking me to Disneyland?”
To join the ad fraternity, one will find it difficult to get in. But once in, you’ll find it difficult to get out. It absorbs you with its never-ending electricity to excel. That’s just the way it is.
You only have to put your foot in the door to experience the addictive appeal this business holds. Most ad people believe they are best qualified for the job they have.
Anything else is a waste of life.
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This piece was the Editor’s Note for MARKETING WEEKENDER Issue 317
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