Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Never Go Half Ass

In light of mergers, acquisitions and unholy alliances with unholy holding companies, Jay Chiat presciently asked, "How big can we get before we get bad?"

I left Chiat/Day in 2002, when that question was starting to be answered.


I landed a job at Young & Rubicam in Irvine, California. At the time I thought (perhaps snobbishly) I had left the Big Show and was being sent down to the minors. This was not so much a reflection on Y&R as it was on my alma mater. After all, at the time, Chiat/Day was filled with rock stars.

Actually, I never refer to anyone in the business as a rock star, that is way too pretentious (see also: affectation, summer scarves, nose rings, gauged ears, tattooed sleeves, riding boots and handlebar mustaches).

Colleagues of mine who call themselves, or anyone else in the industry, rock stars need to recognize they simply create advertising that people hate less than other advertising.

In any case, I found myself behind the Orange Curtain with a bunch of young creatives, who had talent, but not necessarily the work ethic needed to make a name for themselves. The most difficult part of my job, other than the 110 mile daily commute, was to import some of that famed Chiat/Day culture and kick some ass.

I must have had some success.

Because 10 years later I ran into one of the kids who worked for me.

"Rich, I owe you a debt of gratitude. You once called me lazy. You said I never followed thru, didn't push myself and sleep-walked thru my job. At the time I cursed you under my breath. But years later I started understanding what you were getting at. Then, I started getting it. Then I started winning awards and getting promoted. I just wanted to say thank you."

Holy shit, I thought,  at least I did one thing right. This kid is now a big time Group Creative Director. Maybe if he spots this blatant pandering he'll bring me in for a gig.

All of which is a longwinded way of getting to a pleasant experience that happened not too long ago.

My partner and I were asked to supervise some juniors working on a project. At the very last minute, and because of some fluid logistics, we had to ask a young woman to step in and knock out some headlines and body copy. In the time it takes me to drive to the gym, slip into my Speedo, swim a mile, shower and race back to work, she had risen to the task. And done so with grace.

No drama.
No trauma.
She just knocked that shit out.

I won't embarrass her by sharing her name publicly, but sometime in the future you will know the name. In fact, if her drive and professionalism are any indication, it'll be painted on the door of her own agency.

1 comment:

Bob said...

It's a sign of the times that voluntarily knocking out good headlines and body copy on a short deadline is considered rare and surprising.