Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Is advertising easy or hard?

         Once again I've asked a question that has too many answers. But  it's a question a lot of my students fret about, so I think I should respond.

          Parts of advertising are clearly hard work. Doing the necessary research to understand the consumer is hard work. Working out a media plan and budget with a lot of variables is hard work. So is putting an edge on a marketing plan, or working night after night to come up with a big idea, or executing everything for a big meeting, or deciding make-it-or-break-it issues --- hard work all. Not just physically, but mentally as well.

          I think the hardest part of advertising, though, is the emotional part. For the creative people, there's stress you feel way down inside every time you get a new assignment. They say you're only as good as your last ad and here, on a platter, is another chance for a couple of weeks of immortality.

          There's stress, the inner excitement kind, while you work out the solution to the creative problem you've been given. After all, you just have to do something nobody has ever done before, better than anyone who does the same kind of thing, and please the target market so much they put out good money for the product.

           There's stress in presenting your work to others in the agency, as your boss fiddles with his red pencil. My stress level probably went off the charts the time when my first copy director handed my copy back to me and said, "Harvey, there's a fine line between bullshit and too much bullshit".

            There can be even more stress when you present your work to the client, who may or may not see things your way. One client I worked with in Chicago threw pencils at the account managers if he didn't like their plans.

           In fact, there may not be an easy side. Advertising people work hard. But there is something that makes it all worthwhile. The joyful side.

           The personal satisfaction you get knowing each time that you've created something entirely new, and it solves the problem you've been given, perfectly. The sheer fun of working with others, who are perfectionists like you, and coming up with one idea after another. The camaraderie of teamwork when you're under the gun and everyone's a little scared like you are. The beam of light that seems to illuminate you, when your work is applauded and when it succeeds, and maybe you win an award or a mention in the trade papers.

           Just don't call it the ad game, because it isn't a game. But it is your chance to be a winner, and win big.


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