Monday, March 7, 2011

I love my stupid job.

First of all, I’m not talking about being a ninja. I’m talking about my other job again – which is being an advertising copywriter.

Yes I love my job. Being in advertising is one of the few industries in the world that rewards creativity. There are plenty of challenges, countless opportunities and even the chance to accrue some fame when your stuff is published in magazines or on TV or radio. Furthermore, the cocaine to nose ratio in this industry is alarming (it’s never surprising though). It's like the ad industry are the monsters in Snow Bros.

That 8-ball's gonna get us high for hours!
 I do feel that my job is quite stupid in the big scheme of things. Like I said I love it but that doesn’t change how stupid it is. My entire existence as a writer revolves around having ideas with the potential to (a) sell shit and (b) win shit. Both are pretty straight forward although never easy and once you’ve accomplished the winning and selling of shit goals, you do kind of wonder “who fuckin' cares?”
Tell 'em Webster.
The truth is that advertising always kind of works and it doesn’t matter how lamebrain or mediocre the idea is. Exposure is the most important thing, not the art of advertising. The original Vodacom ads (HELLO. VODACOM!) are among the most loved and well-regarded in South African history. The same can be said about those old Castrol ads (HOWSIT... CHINA) or those Sasol ones (AMAGLUGGLUG). 
Those examples were all amazing but did they really drive product? Did they encourage sales or increase desirability among certain demographics? Did those amazing adverts do what advertising is supposed to, or did they just make us fall in love with a set of characters so enduring that they surpassed the brand and became a brand on their own?

Those Castrol ads were dropped. The Sasol ads too. Vodacom dropped their original line-up in favour of an animated, gay, Chip n’ Dale meerkat. Everybody hated that ugly fuck but Vodacom increased product movement with him. Sad isn’t it?
Simba and Pumba never looked at Timon the same again...
That’s the problem. Everybody in advertising wants to make award-winning adverts in the same way that everybody in movies wants to win an Oscar... except Uwe Boll perhaps. Uwe Boll is to the movies as The Ketchup Song was to music. 

House of the Dead. Yes I'd kill him.
 But Eventually, you realise that all the amazing award winning stuff is intended for other advertisers and not really for the general public. I mean seriously. Who besides designers and art directors care about typefaces and awesome layouts and rebrands and stuff? Those things affect customers but they don’t in that amazing way that we as adpeople, expect them to.

People never act like this. Ever.
We, as adpeople, think that everybody goes ballistic about our clever wordplay and artistic pictures wrought with ironic synergy. We think that people will notice how we’ve integrated an amusing flash-version of Bubble Bobble into our website layout for some new kids bubble bath.

In a just world, dragons who spit bubbles should be able to sell ANYTHING. But alas...
People don’t care. At most we get a “my, that was a nice ad/promo/site” and then the viewer moves on. They don’t care about pretty pictures or headlines or taglines. The only ads people care about come on TV or radio and those ads are loved because they’re entertaining. They don’t sell shit.

At it’s very core, the advertising industry is possibly the strangest industry on the planet. We don’t make movies (we make the stuff that people swear at everytime there’s a break in the movie) and we don’t make music either (we make radio ads that nobody even listens to). We make adverts to aggressively hurtle consumers headfirst into stupid decisions and every time we as writers, designers or art directors do something well, we only ever impress each other.

Still, I love it. The power.

I find your lack of desire to buy a VW Passat disturbing.