Monday, November 21, 2011

Is advertising everyone's hobby?

         Why is it so many people say they have expertise in advertising when they really don't?

          I don't know any other field where so many people claim they have experience. I don't hear people saying "I have experience in being a prosecutor" or "I have experience in being a brain surgeon" or even "I have experience in selling cigars".

          But advertising? Everyone's an expert. Everyone who wrote their own business card, sold raffle tickets, helped a friend write a want-ad to sell a bicycle, or done a poster for a lost kitty claims to have ability in advertising. Why?

           For one thing, they've written letters all their lives. They know how to put a noun and a verb together to complete a sentence, so they're writers. Now computers make it easy for everyone to be an art director, too. Just download a photo or illustration. You can always tell a wannabee because they say "fonts", the incorrect Microsoft Word name for "typeface". (It was shorter.)

           For another thing, now that "Mad Men" has been on TV, advertising is regaining some of its original glamor. Watch a few episodes and you can pick up the action, the moves, and the language. It all seems simple enough. Just have a brainstorm, put it into words and pictures, put on your "Mad Men" suit from Banana Republic, and sell your idea to someone. If you're not successful, just open the bottom right drawer of your desk and have a drink.

          I want to stick up for the professionals in the crowd. The hard working, hard thinking people who have to face a blank computer screen and come up with good ideas not just one day a week but every day. Under the pressure of deadlines and meetings and the person in the next office. Plus all the usual worries everyone has these days. It looks easy, and advertising people are often naturally playful, so it's misleading. That smirk on a copywriter's face may be heartburn.

          Try being in advertising. Write a commercial for a new toothpaste named Blitz, that's made with a new cleaning ingredient, B-F 20, from Switzerland. Go ahead. I'll be back in an hour to see how you're  doing.


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