Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Jacob's Ladder

Don't know about you, but I make it a point to stay on top of industry news.

It's good to know which companies are losing accounts. And which companies are winning accounts -- which they will no doubt lose once the "branding" campaign fails to generate more than 138 Facebook likes or 79 Youtube views and franchisees/dealers/VC investors demand the agency start moving the needle.

But as I tell other freelancers, or creatives who are forced to freelance because they Got Quit, turmoil is your best friend.

It's also good to stay abreast on who is getting promoted.

Last week, I noticed several folks took on new and semi-important titles. I'm sure these promotions were followed by celebratory mylar balloons, nominal social media congratulations from jealous colleagues and a lot of hemming and hawing from the Executive Suite:

"Congratulations, you now have the title and responsibilities of a Group Creative Director. But uh...we don't have any more money for you. We've all got to tighten the belt. I'll tell you more about your new job when I come back from Cannes."

Who wouldn't want get promoted, right?

Well, it's taken me 44 years, but I'm here to tell you it's all Fool's Gold.

Particularly in the creative department of an ad agency, where the goal is to finally be the one who decides what gets shown (and hopefully sold) to the client and what gets left in a deck that will never been by anyone but the janitorial staff.

Guess what Mr. or Ms. Young Group Creative Director, you're not the one making those important decisions. And neither is the guy or gal above you. Or even above them.

In fact, unless you have your name on the door and your mugshot is the first one people see on the agency website, you have no more voice in the matter than the Assistant Associate Content Strategist, who only last year was organizing the bake sale at the University of Wisconsin chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

In today's world of advertising, and this happens in every agency from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, the Chief Creative Officer is a not an officer at all.

He or she is a Committee.
A Council.
A Partnership.
A Board.
A Panel.
A Bureau.
A Conclave.
A Tribunal.
A Junta.

And I've only reached the third paragraph of the online thesaurus.

Years ago, you'd hear many agency people derisively call Focus Groups, Fuck-Us Groups.

In our collective race to the bottom, we have successfully pre-empted those soul-sucking gatherings of know-it-all housewives and deadbeat tuna fish sandwich hoarding dads, and internalized our own everyone-gets-a-voice, politburo-like processes. Yeah, Go Team!

On the death of creativity, I have seen the enemy.

And it is us.

1 comment:

Salty said...

The truth hurts more than I remember.