Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Fenske Credo

I've made no secret of my admiration for Mark Fenske.

Mark is a professor at VCU now, but when he made a living as a copywriter he wrote unlike any other. Perhaps that's why his name was all over the awards books, which made it a whole lot easier to mimic his style.

In addition to teaching, Mark maintains -- and I use that word sparingly -- a blog. He puts up an entry every month or so, which means he has about two regular readers, me and whenever he does an infrequent spellcheck.

His most recent entry however struck a chord.

He tells his students, aspiring copywriters and art directors:

"Just do the opposite of everything you see."

His reasoning is simple. 99% of everything you see on TV, Twitter, Facebook, etc. is utter crap. That is undeniable. If you want to do something good, don't do crap.

It is for me, the first litmus test any work I present.

If it sounds like, looks like, or smells like anything that's out there I don't want to have any part of it.

If only clients bought into the same criteria. They don't. Their rationale is equally simple. If it doesn't sound or look or smell like anything out there they get nervous. Because it is different.

And, if a campaign dares to be different it also, by definition, flirts with failure. And as much as corporate yahoos and motivational masturbators would have us believe in the redemptive power of failure, the truth is Chief Marketing Officers with multiple mortgages and a sweet corner office will run away from risk faster than the Democrats ran away from Obamacare.

As a result we get shit, shitty and shittier work.

Special effects dreck.

Overwrought manifestos.

Or happy smiling millineals in contrived situations speaking committee-written adtalk to other happy smiley millineals whose manicured beards should be pulled out by hand and shoved down their precious organic-only pieholes.

Sadly, it's also why there's little chance we'll see work like this anymore. Authentic, insightful and delightfully-small.

I'm sure Fenske would agree that God blessed the Creative Director who has the balls to ask for small.

1 comment:

gl said...

Rich, the late 90's called, they want their ambition and high hopes back.