Archive for May, 2010

Why Creatives Are Always Confused

The  Ad Contrarian blog post below provides the creative perspective on just how subjective advertising is.   I’ve always said that there are a thousand ways to do an ad and they are all correct.  Who decides which concept is right?   If an ad is on strategy and the client doesn’t like it, is it wrong?  

Another great quote from me is that “advertising exists at the whim of business.”  It simply means that there are few, if any, board members of Fortune 500 companies asking about the advertising.  The advertising often occurs in support of their business issues and they care a lot less about the brand than they do about sales.  Yes, they talk about the brand but they really want to sell shit.  They often don’t care about the correlation.  Budgets may get created by marketing and ad people but they are approved by financial people.  Trust me, they don’t give a rip about “great work”  and even less about making art.

It’s tough because the ad biz is at risk.  As Keith Reinhard once said:  “We used to be in the board room, now we are in the lobby waiting to see the ad manager.”  Ad managers have little authority and less courage.  They pass concepts around to lots of people further removed from the original assignment.  The suits and the baseball hats come to solutions and ideas from very different places.  That place in the middle is fraught with dissonance. 

It’s no wonder creatives are confused.  Yet, in a very subjective arena they actually do very well.  As you read the list below remember that it is from the creative perspective.  As an account guy who totally respects their ability to create magic from a blank piece of paper I empathize.  Yet, from a business perspective I was often frustrated as I listened to creative folks complain that there was never enough time or money to have a great idea.  Project management and traffic departments were created with the sole purpose of managing the creative process and “freeing” creatives from the pesky burden of being on time, on strategy and within budget.  Yep, a confusing business.  

Tell me what you think about this age-old issue and where it is today. 

Here’s the post from the Ad Contrarian:

Why Creatives Are Always Confused

As you stroll the halls of an ad agency you often encounter people wearing baseball caps, wandering aimlessly and muttering to themselves.

We call these people “creatives.”  They are the ones who make the ads.

They are always confused. Here’s why.

They are pressured by their leaders to do “great” work. But when they do, they usually get reprimanded for not being “on strategy.”

They are encouraged to win awards. But when they do, they are dismissed as childish narcissists.

They are highly paid, but rarely listened to.

They are told that it’s “all about the work” but come to learn that it’s “all about the metrics” or “all about the relationship” or “all about the conversation” or “all about” whatever the cliche-of-the-month is.

When they say advertising is an art, their clients say it’s a business.

When they say it’s a business, their clients say it’s an art.

When they finally get something good produced, it fails.

When they produce mundane crap, it works.

When their friends like it, their clients hate it.

When their clients like it, their friends hate it.

They are encouraged to be collaborative. But the more people touch their work, the worse it gets.

They are counseled against becoming prima donnas. But they see that the people who get good jobs are often disagreeable monsters.

If they weren’t confused they’d be crazy.


1999 BP Ad

Where the dumbest drivers are

The folks at CNN created this handy interactive map so you could see how many people in your state are lousy drivers.  I haven’t  seen anybody changing their clothes while driving…although the guy in the clown suit I passed probably shoulda.   I did actually see someone playing a trumpet with both hands with his elbows  firmly at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel.  And do you think drinking coffee while driving constitutes “eating while driving?” 

The map also shows where the people are who would fail a written driver’s exam.  Apparently there are about 38 million of us who lack the knowledge to pass the average state written test.  So, how are they getting a license?

Anyway, it’s fun to play with and on this holiday weekend a good map to check before heading out on the road.

Map: Where the dumbest drivers are.

It’s Still a Wonderful Country

Another rock solid political ad from the great state of Alabama.  Shout out to Ann Marie Ricard for sending it along.   I thought Tim James (April 27th post) had set the bar pretty high, but Dale Peterson proves that we can all do better when it comes to political campaigning.   Dale’s eloquent, passionate and tough-minded talk about his cheater opponent and how important agriculture is to Alabama brought me to tears and to my knees.  Let it rip, Dale.

And you gotta love the gun.  I still don’t understand why we don’t just let Alabama secede.

The Perfect Cartoon

From the peeps at Political Irony this is the cartoon you can insert for all the upcoming hypocrisies when public figures are busted for doing stuff they have spent their careers being against.  We can call it being Souder-ized in honor of the latest d-bag, Mark Souder. 

A Love Story

In 1991 I fell profoundly and deeply in love.  It really caught me by surprise.  I mean here I was already happily married.  How could this be?   It was and is a love so visceral it sometimes makes me ache. 

It is my son Nick that I’m writing about.  He is 18 and about to graduate from high school.  It seems like just yesterday when I held him in my arms for the first time.  I was terrified I would drop him.  Now I’m terrified he is going to move out.  I mean I know it has to happen someday but I’m not emotionally ready for him to be an adult. 

Nick Edmondson

After all, it was just a couple of days ago when he started walking, wasn’t it?  Can it be that he is just a few days from walking on stage to receive his diploma?

What happened to the kid who loved to climb things?  I see him vividly on a rock wall and wondering to myself:  If he falls will he break a bone or will it be a more serious injury?  I have to decide right now whether to warn him or accept the consequences of the fall.  Oop, he jumped…he’s ok. 
I can see him looking in back of the television to see if those people on the screen were back there.  That was just a few weeks ago, wasn’t it?  Now he writes, edits, directs and produces videos for his own YouTube channel.  Which, by the way, was still years in the future when Nick was born.
There he goes, riding unsteadily and wobbly on his first bike ride.  I think that must have been just in the last few days too.  Will he ever get the hang of riding a bike?  I better monitor where he goes…don’t want him to get lost or get into heavy traffic. 
Now he drives a car confidently and well.    I still worry though.  When he’s out late I have the phone on beside my bed. 
I used to wonder:   Will he have friends?  Will he have a girlfriend?  Will he be comfortable around other people?   From a parent of his first “girlfriend” in middle school:  “Nick was the very best person  for our daughter to have as a first boyfriend.  He was kind, thoughtful and treated her wonderfully.”    And this year he hosted several kids every Tuesday night to watch “Lost.”  Friends indeed.
Sometimes I would think:  He seems so quiet.  Now he’s the lead singer in a punk rock band, plays a mean guitar and can sing and play every song Muse ever did.  Oh, and did I mention that he was named Best Actor for his comedic performance during his  high school Drama Fest?  And he is an excellent improv performer?
Of course I always wondered, will he be happy, well-adjusted and have good values?  After all they come out hard-wired and all we can really do is paint the white lines, teach them the right values and gently push them out into the world.    He is well grounded, calm, thoughtful and comfortable in his own skin.  He makes good choices (very anti-drinking, smoking and drugs.) but doesn’t preach to others.  His friends are similarly independent and he really can’t stand posers. 
He’s looking forward to college and pursuing a career in film.  He hopes one day to be a director or editor or both.  I’m delighted he is following his passion and excited for what his future holds.
I could go on and on.  The point is that he’s a fine young man and among the ten coolest people I know.  I’m lucky to know and him and call him my son. 

The Two Best Interview Answers Ever

One day at the intergalactic agency I was interviewing a candidate for a senior management position.  I asked her two questions and she hit them out of the park with her one-word answers.

Incredibly savvy question:   What do you do best?

Way better answer:  Lead

Even better question:  What do you do worst?

Killer answer:  Wait.

I offered her a job.  She turned it down.  I think she is president of a country now.