Why Advertising People Hate Advertising
Here’s an article I wrote after catching up with some mates who are CEO’s of other advertising agencies – they spent the night collecting awards and telling me how much they hate advertising.
Bloomberg Business Week has just done something that no agency ever has – they published a list of the work from their rivals that had made them jealous – and all the other great stories other publications had written that they wish they had.
Why hasn’t this article been written by an agency in Australia?
The reason is because we don’t act like an industry at all. Most of us are lone wolfs, in it for the self-serving game of making a buck or making a career.
I was recently at an awards function speaking to some CEO’s of other agencies – they were telling me how much they hate advertising, and hate ‘the industry’.
The audacity of these ‘guys’ (yes they were)! The have built great brands, made lots of money, created brilliant work, and they ‘hate advertising’ – something needs to change.
At best, many of us are indifferent to what we do, and at worst we are embarrassed.
How many people in ‘advertising’ do you know who love saying they ‘hate advertising’?
Probably not quite as many people in ‘media’ who hate saying they work in media?
And there are probably even more public relations (PR) people in PR who love to hate PR.
This form of self-flagellation must stop.
Further, in Australia there are two types of agencies: the institutions and the independents.
Both have different agendas and see little value in putting down their arms and linking arms with their competitors. And maybe that’s ok. But it doesn’t make for a collegiate industry.
We are a bunch of individuals with little concern for the industry or our profession.
We are not a profession that’s a given – however, we are hardly even an industry – we all just turn up and work in the same business.
If someone does something to put their head above the parapet you can be assured their ‘industry friends’ will cut them down to size (look no further than your nearest comments section in the trade press for evidence of this).
So instead of the current paradigm what would happen if we focused on trying to create an actual industry – one where we were supportive of each other’s efforts, and respectful of each other’s work?
One that invited media and creative and marketing and stunts and direct and PR etc to all coexist under one umbrella?
What would happen if we as individuals and companies put as much effort into building an industry as we do entering awards, and creating award shows?
Perhaps the following:
- There would be conversations around the ethics of what we do? (I sat very briefly on ‘The Communications Council Ethics Board’ before it was disbanded!)
- There would be rules and regulations around transparency in media buying?
- There would be protections for fees charged for services (so agencies wouldn’t have to make money in dark corners)?
- There would be equality of the sexes, and representative diversity.
- There would be more value in the industry – all of which would demonstrate the power of creativity (with a good dose of behavioural sciences!) in solving community issues well beyond advertising?
Up until now perhaps the people who have done most for advertising are the creators of Mad Men and The Gruen Series.
They’ve put what we do under the spotlight – and made us, to a degree think about what we do, how it works, and the impact it has on others. A rather smart philosopher once said ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’.
Once we accept, define and embrace our industry we can build a sense of collective direction and purpose, and then we can unlock the power of creativity.
To give back into the industry will mean sacrifice. Sacrifice of ego. Sacrifice of time. Sacrifice of intellectual property.
So who’ll take Bloomberg’s lead and write an article about the work this industry produces that makes them jealous?
I can’t say it wont hurt (like this article will, you’ll be sure to be criticised) but it may be a step in the right direction.
Have a nice holiday and bring on 2015.
The above article generate a lot of commentary and vitriol (ironic much) you can see here.