A few days ago I heard about ‘some ad guy dying of cancer’ who was writing an amazing blog. Then yesterday a friend of mine sent me a link to a blog post entitled “A Short Lesson In Perspective“. I didn’t put the two together until I was finished reading the article. I always wanted to write a book called, “How I Quit My Job In Advertising to…” but I could never fill in the dot-dot-dot part. I have a love-hate relationship with the profession, which I think most ad-people do. It’s a bizarre profession, to be constantly solving trivial problems for decidedly un-trivial dollars. Sometimes it is gruelling and gruesome, and other times it is invigorating and enlightening. And most of the time it is somewhere in between.
But enough about me. We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog posting to direct your attention elsewhere: to Linds Redding’s funny, heartbreaking and truth-talking blog. Here is a brief excerpt from A Short Lesson In Perspective, but I encourage you to read the entire post and then go spend some time with the people you love.
The Overnight Test only works if you can afford to wait overnight. To sleep on it. Time moved on, and during the nineties technology overran, and transformed the creative industry like it did most others. Exciting new tools. Endless new possibilities. Pressing new deadlines. With the new digital tools at our disposal we could romp over the creative landscape at full tilt. Have an idea, execute it and deliver it in a matter of a few short hours. Or at least a long night. At first it was a great luxury. We could cover so much more ground. Explore all the angles. And having exhausted all the available possibilities, craft a solution we could have complete faith in.
Or as the bean counters upstairs quickly realized, we could just do three times as many jobs in the same amount of time, and make them three times as much money. For the same reason that Jumbo Jets don’t have the grand pianos and palm-court cocktail bars we were originally promised in the brochures, the accountants naturally won the day.
Pretty soon, The Overnight Test became the Over Lunch Test. Then before we knew it, we were eating Pot-Noodles at our desks, and taking it in turns to go home and see our kids before they went to bed. As fast as we could pin an idea on the wall, some red-faced account manager in a bad suit would run away with it. Where we used to rely on taking a break and “stretching the eyes’ to allow us to see the wood from the trees (too many idioms and similes? Probably.) We now fell back on experience and gut-feel. It worked most of the time, but nobody is infallible. Some howlers and growlers definitely made it through, and generally standards plummeted.
The other consequence, with the benefit of hindsight, is that we became more conservative. Less likely to take creative risks and rely on the tried and trusted. The familiar is always going to research better than the truly novel. An research was the new god. The trick to being truly creative, I’ve always maintained, is to be completely unselfconscious. To resist the urge to self-censor. To not-give-a-shit what anybody thinks. That’s why children are so good at it. And why people with Volkswagens, and mortgages, Personal Equity Plans and matching Lois Vutton luggage are not.
Amazing, right? Go read the entire thing. Right now.