Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Sadland Adventures

I had the pleasure of starting my advertising career at Rubin Postaer & Associates.

I learned the business from a very unique vantage point, behind the wheels of a mailroom cart. As such, I had contact with every department of this booming and very successful agency: Traffic, Print Production, Broadcast, Account Services and of course, Creative.

(There was no Planning Department; I don't know how they managed to conduct any business.)

I also picked up on the benign dictatorship of the Creative Director, Larry Postaer.

The art directors and copywriters on the 8th floor loved Larry, even though he was merciless on the work. Killing concepts, round after round after round after round.

Why? Because they knew, and the account people certainly knew, that once "The Work" had Larry's blessing, it would be sold to the client.

Untainted by those of lesser minds.

It was a testament to Larry's leadership. A respect for the purity of the creative product. And an unmistakable indication of the rock solid trust the client had in the agency's ability. And worth.

My good fortune continued when, years later, I found myself at Chiat/Day, where Lee Clow commanded the similar powers of persuasion.

Now, maybe that's not the way it was, but that's the way it seemed. Suffice to say, those days are long gone. Loooooong gone.

Like horse-and-buggy, churn-your-own-butter, 15% commission gone.

Which is why I found this recent effort by The Variable, an agency in North Carolina, so amusing.

Amusing for all the wrong reasons.

I'll give them points for production value and the Richard Attenborough-like VO. But one of their YouTube videos, episode 6.7 is all backwards.

It's so backwards it's comical.

Because in today's advertising world, the omnipotent Assistant Account Executive would summon the GCD (seated uncomfortably at the noisy long table) to his or her office with a text or an email.

And the GCD, Group Creative Director, expertly trained in the Deferential Arts,  would immediately drop everything. Because, I think we can all agree, if revisions aren't made toot sweet...

"We're going to lose the account!"

Furthermore, far from being skittish like the hyena, today's young AAE is more like the King of the Jungle. Emboldened with a Powerpoint deck, Big Data and the impenetrable logic of:

"The client said so."

"It has to ship tomorrow."


"I can take this to the ECD if you'd like."

In fact, and I'm sorry to say this, the supposed uneven distribution of power suggested by this 15 second video is so misconstrued that in the real world, the mighty AAE's request for revisions from the GCD is likely to be followed by...

"Hey, can you grab me a cup of coffee? Cream and sugar. But not that Hazelnut crap."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No matter how accomodating I am to the perspective of account service, I'm regularly made to feel like a prima donna for raising justified concerns about the direction of the work. And it's typically by people 10 years my junior who have no knowledge or even curiosity in how I came to make the work the way it is.