Friday, March 23, 2012

You run the company, I'll wash up.

         My friend Dick used to have a sign in his office: "Everybody could do everything if that's all they're doing". I've thought about that many times as I progressed from copywriter to copy supervisor to associate creative director to creative director, and so on.

         At each stage, people conspired to get me involved in more and more things, when all I really wanted was to be left alone to make ads and commercials. Even today, as I teach advertising and marketing, I often slip back into my role as ad maker, and I love it.

         I'm still not perfectly clear about why I love it. On one level, it's problem solving. An assignment to do an advertising campaign is like being handed a puzzle. How do all the pieces fit together --- the market, the product, the strategy? And, of course, what you do with all this?

         On another level, it's the creativity that's so appealing to me. The fun of doing something that hasn't been done before. And spending the whole day playing with the toys the kid inside of you loves: words, pictures, colors, surprises, jokes, visual humor, burlesque humor, shocking truths.

         On a third level, it's the entertainer in me that comes to life. The amateur magician performing the magic of television and the art of persuasion, to the delight of the audience. Even as I write this, I'm conscious of your potential response, and I want to please you.

          Some people run away from being creative. They're turned off by the playfulness of creative people, and the endlessness of questions that are raised, and the daily requirement of having ideas.

          For a person with a rich inner life like mine, an inner-directed person screaming to get out, creative work has been satisfying ever since I studied advertising in college.

          It's been a dance. A dance with a problem to be solved, and a very smart viewer daring me to convince her.

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