Monday, March 3, 2014

Cranky Old Man Alert

I just celebrated my 44th birthday, so it seems only natural that I write about an age related issue.

To be more specific, I feel sorry for the younger generation of ad makers. Mostly because they have so little opportunity to make ads.

To be sure, they make plans. They make decks. They make all the preparations necessary to actually make an ad.

But then, because of bureaucracy or budget cuts or a new social media phenomena that has distracted the entire industry like some shiny fish bait, those ads never get made.

In a simpler, Internet-less time, when I was doing my best to learn the business and build a portfolio, it was all quite different.

In a typical year at Chiat/Day (the preferred nomenclature) I would knock out 2-3 TV spots, 3-4 double page spreads (long copy, no less), a few outdoor boards and maybe a radio campaign.

Not all of them book-worthy mind you. In fact, in retrospect much of it was simply embarrassing. But the experience of being on a set, dealing with directors and cinematographers, navigating the ins and outs of a production, was invaluable.

Moreover, I had great teachers who showed me a little something about the craft; Lee Clow, Steve Hayden, David Lubars, to namedrop a few.

It was only through doing it over and over, that I began to learn the meaning of subtlety, nuance and authenticity.

It's a shame. I could name a hundred art directors and copywriters today who have not produced a single TV spot, viral film, outdoor board or meaningful piece of content, as the kids would say, in the last 5 years.

And because they haven't produced anything, they haven't gotten any better at it.

It's not all a total loss.

Many of them have crafted widget tweeting vines or some other digital nonsense that tells 41 people what some other group of 23 people are doing at the local aquarium store.

Of course my explanation doesn't do their handiwork any justice. But they're more than happy to explain the wizardry on their portfolio links.

In lieu of actual ads they've gotten very good at that.

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