Oct 15, 2007

I Really Hate Advertising. No Really, I Do.

Why is it that so many well-regarded creatives feel compelled to repeat the old canard about how they “hate advertising” and try and ignore it at every opportunity. I mean I get that at some level they’re saying that so much of what’s out there is crap and that they’re in the business to try and improve it. But what it comes out sounding like is “I really could care less about this stuff. So how cool is it that I’m so much better at it than all you suckers who really do care. I mean, I barely try and you all are busting your asses and yet who’s walking home with the Gold Pencils?”

There’s another unintended effect too, which is to convey to clients that “this advertising thing is crap. Look at me, I hate it and I’m the guy the industry is looking up to. What a sucker you are for wasting your money on it.”

Not saying we all need to become Award Show Junkies or watch hours of commercials every night, but a little respect for our business from those within it at a time when we get no respect from those on the outside might be nice.


Anonymous said...

curious as to what prompted this outburst. anyone in particular?

Alan Wolk said...

@TSR: Someone was recently relating how more than one CD who was speaking during Advertising Week made this sort of comment.

And then I was reading something via Adverganza about how some guy was pissed that Mad Men didn't show the true guts and glory and passion of creatives, which got me thinking about the disconnect between the two trains of thought.

(Hey, you asked ;) )

Anonymous said...

I hate BAD advertising. We all do. It's embarrassing and pulls us all down.

When you tell someone at a party that you work in advertising, where does their head go? Do they think you're the guy that created the latest Geico spot, or the cheeseball who jammed his mailbox with trash? Guess it depends on who is asking.

What I mostly think about is how powerful advertising is (not how bad it is), and how much responsibility I have to do it right, despite the myriad obstacles in my path.

Anonymous said...

This is a pretty common issue in agency-land, I think.

It reeks of self-doubt and victimhood.

At my agency, we call it cynicism, and consider it a cancerous attitude...b/c once it's unleashed, it's pretty hard to get rid of without re-stocking the pond.

I think the difficulty is the absurdity of the job...that it takes a positive passion (or fear for your job) to make you work all night to make something kick ass, while balancing that with the fact that we're not curing cancer and want our wives and kids to like it.

This job, especially if you're a creative, is a constant tightrope between those two trains of thought...if you don't mind me mixing a metaphor or seven.

I'm sure I've been guilty of it in the past, but I try not to feed it and call folks on it when I see it.


Anonymous said...

@ David Burn

You said, "the cheeseball who jammed his mailbox with trash"

I'm not a mailbox filling cheeseball (nor am I creative, um, unfortunately), but it seems to me you're missing Toad's point. Or maybe I'll make my own.

It seems fashionable for some in the industry to trash the industry as a whole so as to separate themselves from all the crap they're trashing. Including TV commercials. Not just direct mail pieces put together by a guy in Topeka.

Alan Wolk said...

@David: I find that people outside the business generally find what we do to be fascinating and even glamorous. Never been hit with the DM comment, perhaps because I haven't worked that end.

I do find that people always want to know "what commercials have you done that I would know" and for that I turn to the wise words of Doug DeGrood (ex-Fallon) who wrote a hilarious article in Adweek about 10 years ago, wherein he advised us to follow his lead and take credit for the most popular current campaign out there on the theory that the odds of the person you were talking to actually knowing the creative team responsible for the ad were slim to none.

@JT & David & Bender: I was indeed referring to those too cool for school types who, having achieved success in the business, try to distance themselves from all the bad work by claiming to "hate" advertising and not pay attention to award shows and the like. Easy to say when your name is all over said award books, but doesn't ultimately help the industry.

@Bender: I take it you're referring to the syndrome wherein creatives at less-than-stellar agencies become convinced that there's no chance of doing good work and become discouraged and stop trying. It is indeed destructive and the steps you suggest to combat it are likely the right ones.

Anonymous said...

Yep, you pretty much nailed it. I'm at an agency that's quadrupled over 5 years, and it took us almost 4 years to remove most (not all) of the cynicism.

I actually wondered if you were referring to someone who said "I hate advertising" but meant "I hate interruptive advertising."

I mean, I may build something that a consumer wants to engage with online, but it's STILL advertising...no shame in it.

I chose to do this for a living, and prefer the lifestyle it provides to that of a struggling artist. I think the fact that they made that choice haunts a lot of creatives--the good and bad ones.