Tuesday, December 6, 2016
A different belt
Been thinking about who we are and what we do lately.
We're not artists. If we were true poets and painters, we'd be writing sonnets and visiting our work in museums or local Greenwich Village studios. Instead, we're penning industrial yank-off manifestos and scouring the Internet for illustrators who will do our bidding for $19 an hour.
We're not business people. If we had a knack for numbers we'd look at our holding company overlords who have sold us a bad bill of goods, infected us with deadly Stockholm Syndrome and say Fuck You Very Much.
We're bruisers and brawlers who can step in the ring, take a good corporate pummeling and like Jake LaMotta, look adversity in the eye, and say, "You never got me down, Ray. Never."
Of course this is no great revelation. If you've ever presented your ideas to a Leadership Committee or Partner Party or Executive Bureau -- every agency has a different name -- you're all too familiar with the requisite ducking, weaving and counterpunching.
"Yes, it is on strategy"
"Yes, we can produce this on a limited budget."
"Yes, it covers off all the mandatories on the brief."
"No, we don't have a brand engagement unit that seamlessly integrates with the idea in a synergistic manner that will actively stimulate brand-to-consumer interaction. But the Pad Thai Noodles are coming at 8 and we should have that by tomorrow morning."
The pugilism analogy is hardly stretched.
As in the world of boxing, there are certain creatives who will, with a modicum of skills and an entourage of smooth talking connections, rise above the rest and become true prizefighters.
And then there are the rest of us who will bounce around from one gym (open office plan) to another (open office plan with foosball table.)
We'll take body punches from planners. Head butts from CMO's. And bone crushing, dream crushing combinations from the least likely of sources, a newly minted Account Coordinator, eager to make her mark and ascend the corporate ladder...
"I like the idea but if I can just play Devil's Advocate."
In the end and apart from the scratches and bruises and scars, we don't have much to show for our efforts.
Nobody remembers that million dollar Nissan spot you shot with that artsy-fartsy European director who despised the color blue. Nobody can recall the 24 page insert you wrote for Dell computers. And nobody gives a horse's patooty about all those goddamned banner ads and page takeovers.
All of which makes me so glad that 13 years ago I hung up my agency boxing gloves and took up the more fluid, freelance approach of Tai Chi.