the best thing i read all day.
How Advertising Works by April from Regretsy
By now you may know that I do other things besides sit on the couch and make fun of crafts. For example, I sometimes sit in bed and make fun of crafts.
I also worked in advertising for about 10 years, and I had a pretty good career. I eventually stopped doing that because I started to hate it. The whole structure of the industry almost guarantees that you will never be able to do good work. In fact, I firmly believe that good ads only see the light of day because someone wasn’t paying attention.
For the uninitiated, here’s how advertising works:
• The agency hires a hip, forward thinking creative right out of school for almost no money.
• The creative is seduced into working for the company because the building is cool, and people ride their Schwinn bikes indoors all day. So kind of like Etsy, but with Clios.
• The creative is put on an account that is notoriously hard to please, because the senior creatives who have paid their dues have no interest in working for that client anymore.
• The creative director tells the creative that the client wants out-of-the-box-award-winning-thinking™.They do not. The agency wants that, because then they get featured in trade magazines that only ad people read. They also cannot bring themselves to admit that they are working for a client who calls the Charmin Toilet Paper bears “breakthrough.”
• The creative hands in the out-of-the-box-award-winning-thinking™ the agency pretended they were looking for. This is relayed to the creative director, who is currently in Shitsville pitching a client that is firing their incumbent agency for giving them exactly what they asked for.
• The creative director returns the work to the agency with a few inexplicable changes that do nothing to enhance it. I call this “putting your stink on it,” and it’s an act that is repeated all the way down the food chain. The work is returned to the creative, significantly damaged and no longer in danger of winning anything.
• The creative goes to battle, attempting to salvage anything with an edge or point of view. At this point 1) The creative director gets involved, restoring the work to his version, and 2) A blander execution is created to “give the client a choice.”
Now here’s where logic really breaks down:
Instead of sending the creative to present the work to the client, the agency sends an Account Executive. The Account Executive did not create the work, nor do they understand it. The Account Executive is someone with a business degree, no creative vision and no sense of humor. This means that when the client asks a question like, “Does Superman have to fly?” The Account Executive says, “No, he can just walk really fast.”
The good work dies, the client chooses the blander option and the creative director comes into your office and says, “Hey they can’t all be award winers. You’ll get it right next time.”
And this is why I left that business.
If they had said to me, when I came in as a young, starry eyed moron, that I would be working on shit accounts until I proved myself and didn’t have to anymore, I’d still have taken the fucking job. The difference is I wouldn’t have complained about it. I’d have gone to work whistling, marking off every day on my calendar as a day served in hell, and getting one step closer to my ideal job.
But that’s not how they do it, because, well, it’s advertising. And advertising is lying. They can’t help it, it’s part of the job.