Wednesday, October 24, 2012

If you've got time

The Presidential election is almost upon us.

And in 2 weeks, millions of dirt poor people will cast their lot with Mitt Romney, an obscenely wealthy man practiced in the art of making a select few equally obscenely wealthy.

Millions of Jews will vote for President Obama, despite his abysmal support of Israel and the administration's unwillingness to call Islamic extremism, Islamic extremism.

In this spirit of going against one's own interest, I'd like to share a youtube video I came across last week. It makes an excellent point about creativity and the time it takes to produce inspired ideas. I say this is against my own interests because as a freelance writer I am often paid a higher fee to deliver creativity on demand.

I am typically brought in at the tail end of a project. When 99 other solutions have already been explored. When calendars have already expired. When patience runs thin and project managers are one conference report away from "going postal."

But now, it seems, even the relatively short time given to freelancers is being compressed.

In the halcyon days of 2005, a TV campaign would be allotted two weeks for development. A print campaign, 10 days. And a radio spot needed a full week to gestate. Add another two days for tagging alternatives.

That is no longer the case.

I was recently asked to work on a Super Bowl spot. I was handed the brief at 10 AM and called for a 'check-in' with the Creative Director by 4 PM. The same day!

Agency Creative Directors have become very fond of the 'check-in'. It's a way of monitoring progress, but in reality, it hinders progress. Check ins assume we go about our assignments the same way sweatshop workers of the early 20th century sewed piece work. If I'm spending two hours telling you how far I've got, that's two hours less of actually getting further.

Not to mention the fact that 'check-ins' plays havoc with my online Scrabble games.

Time is not elastic. It's a finite commodity. So the only way to give more time to Creative people is take it from somewhere else in the process. Some place where it is being utterly wasted and flittered away like a Pentagon Procurement Officer on a billion dollar toilet-seat buying binge.

The question is, where could that time come from? Where are precious minutes, hours and days, exchanged for copious amounts of meaningless, insipid, latrine-worthy data?

Think about that. I've got to get to a focus group.

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