Monday, December 14, 2015
Why I Sucked at Being a Creative Director, Part II
Can you feel it?
The much-anticipated Christmas/New Year's break. Or the period advertising people refer to as the most likely time I will get home before 9 o'clock and not get called in to work a weekend. Of course that can all change at the drop of an RFP.
Or if Johnny Client decides, after months of painstaking committee fucking, rewriting, tweaking, reshooting and re-editing…
"I'm not sure our new Super Bowl spot feels fresh and Disruptive™ as it did when I first signed off on it. Can you guys show me something new? On Dec. 26? Thanks."
The end of the year has also got me thinking. A moment for introspection. That's when I thought I would follow up on the most popular post ever written for Round Seventeen -- Why I Sucked at Being a Creative Director.
People like reading about my many faults and shortcomings. And they don't make any attempt to hide their glee. It's like an inverted schadenfreude, which is usually savored in private. In fact when I published the original post, I had "friends" offering to pile on.
"I'll tell you another reason, Siegel."
Thanks, but no thanks. I can handle this assignment on my own. Though I'm convinced my next book would far exceed the sales of my current offering, if I just compiled a series of essays and titled it: Why I Suck At…
Anyway, picking up where I left off.
7. I have a short fuse. There I said it. I won't take it back. And I won't go in search of any fuse-enhancement pills. Not only is my temper short, it's volatile. I do not suffer fools gladly. I can deal with people who are sneaky, political, brilliant, drunk, or just perpetually drunk, but I have no stomach for people who are stupid. And sadly when you've sat in three hour long wardrobe meetings discussing the merits of a cardigan vs. a vested sweater, you know there's plenty of stupid to go around.
Mind you, there have been many successful creative directors with short fuses, but they had redeeming qualities that I don't, like hair or nice shoes.
8. There's no me in Team. I know many people belong to the Congregation of Collaboration, I'm not one of them. There was a time, a better time, in advertising when I knew the names of all the great writers and art directors. I won't call them "rock stars" because I hate that delusional metaphor, but they were the heavily awarded individuals who had made a name for themselves by standing out from the crowd. If you've seen the credit list on any work lately you know credit nowadays belongs to the crowd. Assistant Associate Coordinators never enjoyed such limelight. In 2015, I didn't touch one assignment that wasn't also manhandled by half the creative department.
9. Lost my wind sock. I can read a room and can generally tell how and what to present. The industry, on the other hand, is thoroughly confounding. I always assumed clients want work that will make a splash, move the masses and create a recognizable spike in sales. That tells me to plant a flag, establish a unique tone of voice and execute it loudly on TV, in print and outdoor. But the well-informed creative director of today knows otherwise. As the Swedes on Happyish were fond of saying, "It's not about campaigns anymore." It's about getting Likes. Going viral. And to quote myself from a previous post, creating a "vast array of frivolous fuckwadian digital knick knacks™."
10. Ad ADD. In addition to my aforementioned short fuse, I have the even more crippling affliction of a short attention span. It's why it took me close to three years to write the book none of you bought. It's why I can't see a screenplay through from beginning to end. And it's why if a spot has reached the point of a 15th, 16th or 17th rewrite, I'll simply cave in and say, "have the client write it and I'll just polish up the turd."
There you have it, my Top Ten reasons on why I sucked at being a creative director. Could I write ten more? Of course I could. But then this thinly-veiled humblebrag would lose its disingenuous sheen of modesty.
Besides, it's getting a little long in the tooth and I just rummaged through the pantry and found some chocolate flavored Pop-Tarts with my name on it.