Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just Say No.


As I write this it is 10 AM. I woke up an hour ago. Put on a pot of coffee. Had some low calorie cereal. Replaced the batteries on my thermostat. And played a few games of online Scrabble.

In other words, I'm not at work.

This is unusual for me, even as a freelancer. You see, this has been one incredibly busy year. I haven't worked at a lot of different agencies, but the ones I have did work for, just kept extending me.

It wasn't because they like to have some male eye candy walking the halls.
They extended me because I help put out fires.
Many, many fires.

You see, I write. Whereas most of the folks who call themselves copywriters these days do not actually live up to their job title. I've seen what they do. They make presentations on Post It Notes. They conjure up InstaGrams. They mumble on about social media projects that will only be seen by 327 people.

They do everything but write.

And for me, that's the best of part ad life. I'm not big on meetings. Or exchanging small talk in the hallways. Or "collaborating" with client partners. Particularly the latter. Because that's when what I've written gets dumbed down and becomes what a committee has unwritten.

It's when the compromises start. And never seem to end.

And if you haven't guessed, capitulating, checking off boxes, settling for mediocrity, these are not my strong suits. Once in the name of ambition, I had a stomach for it. Not anymore.

Right now I've got two, possibly three commercials, that have been approved at competing agencies. Neither of these agencies bothered to keep me on for production. I understand. Why pay me a full day rate to sit around to eat sushi and approve wardrobe selections?

Some creatives would grumble about not seeing their work through to the end. I call these people, young.

You see when a commercial goes into production the client Hollywood wannabes come out of their cubicles. Suddenly everybody has an opinion.

"I don't like that actress. She reminds me of my neighbor."

"Let's shoot the red car. Or maybe the black one. The silver is nice."

"What lens is he using?"

Worst of all, when you're on a set, the tenuous power balance between agency and client is tilted in the favor of the party writing the checks.

On one unforgettable occasion and under the threat of an impending thunderstorm, a client, who had graduated with an MBA just 8 months prior to the shoot, caused a two hour delay to a tight shooting schedule, in order to angle a Jaguar XK 3 inches to the left.

THREE FUCKING INCHES!

For a shot that lasted 2 seconds on screen.

I'm sure he's now the CMO of a major auto manufacturer.

This was more than 10 years, and I'm just now purging it from my system.

So here's my compromise. I'll write your commercials. Or your manifestos. Or your print ads. Or your radio spots. But when it comes to producing them and watching them die a thousand bureaucratic deaths, I'd prefer to stay home and eat my supermarket sushi.

2 comments:

George Tannenbaum said...

Hear, hear.

Jeff said...

Beautifully written. Now if you could just change the word "coffee" to the actual brand name, put a ™ by the word Scrabble, delete "eye candy" - HR has a problem with it, not talk about compensation because that's confidential, and not mention young people because it's discriminatory, it'll be good to go.