The advertising and media industry – by all accounts is exactly as you imagine it. At times high-pressured, busy, late nights abound, right through to the inevitable comment about the general work hard play hard lifestyle choice that working in this ‘industry’ is.
I guess the same with all other areas there’s famous trade press (Campaign, Contagious, Ad Age, even Campaign Brief for antipodeans), Award ceremonies (D&D, Cannes, even Axis for antipodeans), famous people ( _______, _______, and even _______ for antipodeans).
The personality types are fairly similar between advertising and media (I’ve worked both sides) and it’s almost like you can spot the advertising archetype everywhere.
(disclaimer – the following archetypes are based on previous advertising roles, rather than media. The below does not apply to anyone I currently work with)
The creative director
Creative directors have a brain that is wired completely differently to anyone else’s. They are able to sift through the mountains of bullsh*t that surround an idea, pull a creative thread out of nowhere, and refine ideas to a point that is succinct and beautiful. 7 word elevator pitch to explain an idea? EASY for them. Proliferate twitterers, witty and hilarious – these guys are like gods to all junior agency staff.
With an innate skill of idea judging that enables them to strike the absolute fear into anyone, they’re also known for being ever so slightly, batshit insane.
The agency head
In one word – INSPIRATION. But you never really see them. Occasionally rolled out for a pre-pitch peptalk, VVICM (very important client meeting) or end of year pat on the proverbial back – these guys still have the best office in the building, and spend 90% of their time travelling overseas to other offices, award ceremonies and chilling out at cannes.
I wonder sometimes if these guys are more about engaging with the staff on the ground more than anything else? have to say tho – a compliment from this side of the business “I hear you’ve been working hard – keep it up!” leaves you with more than a bit of a ‘oh stop it you’ . Maybe that’s because they know that compliments like these are more likely to stop a payrise request right in their tracks with a sideline ‘It’s been a tough year – but we definitely think you’ve done very well’.
Head of Account Management
The person who you can go to if you’ve just had a really awful email from a client, or if one of the creatives decided they didn’t like the clients feedback and has had a tantrum, or if you’ve had a really rough few days and you need someone to tell you that you’re still good at your job and need a hug and a comforting cup of tea. I’m making them sound like an agony aunt – however under this amazingly warm exterior, and perfectly turned out attire they also have an iron fist. Think Delores Umbridge. No I am not joking.
Pretty & Female
I could keep going on this for hours. Essentially where I’m trying to get to, is that this book (like the first) is based on stereotypes that 100% exist. I’ve worked with most of these people in these books. But this time, the tables were turned. I started to see myself in one of the characters.
I’ve been working fairly late lately. I say lately, but I often work late. I tell myself ‘it’s all part of the job’ or ‘I need to work like this’ or ‘it has to be done tonight’ or ‘I have to work NY hours to keep this project running’.
My best friend is a teacher and she thinks my attitude is ludicrous. So does my husband. But there I am, answering calls at 10pm on a Friday night (last night), working away like always.
And I enjoy it.
This book presents melt downs, creatives working all night on piches, divorces being threatened, relationship breakdowns. Maybe I need to look at my own view of it – and start questioning why I love working so hard, why I feel it’s important to know my projects are going smoothly, am I telling myself I prefer work to life?
Work is a form of escapism, particularly if you’re heavily involved in something, and not surprisingly I take my job WAY to seriously. I guess I should tell myself ‘stop wearing it like a fricking badge’ and remember that I need to take a bit of a time out occasionally. The Husband would definitely appreciate it I think.
Back to the book – wasn’t as good as the first one, but has some absolute cracker one liners that caused me to ACTUALLY laugh out loud. Not many books do that for me, so worth it just for that. I can already see the content of the next one – social media strategies, Facebook and Twitter are ripe for the picking, even at this late stage where the advertising world has slightly moved on, with the fight for responsibility (PR?, Advertising team? marketing team? R&D team? IT team? I KNOW lets create an ACTUAL social media team) seemingly sorted.
Agencies will still be wanky, the people in agencies will still be steroetypical, but I’m glad with books like these that I can get an outside perspective on something that deserves to be mocked (and should be more!) – and laugh at the bits of myself, my experience and own personal stories & memories that it brings right back.
To close – here are two favourite advertising links – one, the opening for the New Zealand advertising awards competition (AXIS), and the second, my favourite pisstake ad ever, the PR campaign for Australia invading NZ.
Roll on Ad industry, I may hate & curse you sometimes, but you’ve given me not only the most fun and memorable years of my working life, but allowed me to meet some of the best people too. Even if it means coming home at 4 in the morning after working on a pitch & means I work ridiculously long hours sometimes, you’re still great.