5.19.2004

It's not an ad for soap, it's an ad for me!

Advertising is a competitive industry. The past few years, tough economically, have made it even more so.

Couple the scarcity of jobs with the insecurities that come included with being a "creative", and a difficult situation arises.

Part of the agency culture is the discussion of the book.

The book is simply a creative's collection of ads that they've personally worked on. Sometimes the term is actually describing the physical portfolio shown to prospective creative directors, friends, family, women at bars, etc.; but generally it's used to describe a creative's oeuvre, their entire body of work.

The book is the carrot that's dangling from a stick in front of every creative. "Sorry you didn't get a raise this year. At least you got some good ads for your book!"

So, early on in a career, a creative is given the notion that the best thing they can do is get good work in their book - the idea being that someday they'll be able to work in a better agency then they work now, one which will... let them produce a better book... to get to a better agency... to build a better book...

It's another endlessly repeating cycle. We're not allowed to be happy in our current position. We're supposed to constantly be looking outside, elsewhere, upwards, moving from agency to agency.

(And what makes an agency "better" in this scenario? Their stockpile of gold booty, the ubiquitous advertising trophies, or 'hardware' as it's sometimes called, which was addressed in an earlier post.)

So, a creative is left with a mindset that their work needs to benefit themselves foremost. Their sole purpose is to generate ads in the award-winning style, so that they can one day work at an agency that has themselves won awards. Bringing along any "hardware" to add to a future employer's stockpile can, in this model, only improve the situation.

So we end up with creatives feverishly forcing award show style work on every assignment, regardless of the client's needs.

It gets even worse. Paging through an award annual could lead someone to believe that plastic surgeons and neighborhood ethnic restaurants are the most advertising-savvy businesses in the world.

The shame of the situation is that agencies generate the work in advance of even meeting the client, then shop it around until someone bites. If the work ever "runs", meaning if it ever gets inserted into any publications, it's usually in a donated or very cheap placement.

It's work that never gets seen by the public, and benefits only the creatives involved by appearing in their book, and, in some instances, in award show annuals.

So there's a situation created where agencies are hiring creatives not based on their ability to do actual work for actual clients but on their ability to do make-believe work for make-believe clients.

This is like hiring a construction foreman because he's played with legos. Just because they can put bricks together doesn't mean they can build a house.

It's also a disservice to the client, because creatives are constantly trying to present work that features their creative talent more than the product at hand, and the client is expected to pay the agency, who then pays the creative, for the favor.

The sad thing is that some clients seem to also follow this idea that they need to be cool, that the agency is the "arbiter of cool," and the only way to get some cool is to do as the agency says.

16 Comments:

Blogger /reza said...

So true. Also what is the business use of agency awards? I do not believe that advertisers pick their agencies for their awards... business has to pay before being atractive to other agencie's staff.
Actually the award is the only way for an agency to go for "top" creatives. Creatives wish to be in a award winning team. Awards & Book same goal ?

January 8, 2005 at 3:23 PM  
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August 6, 2005 at 3:42 AM  
Blogger Raphaël Zacharie de Izarra said...

PROCES DE L'INTELLIGENCE EN TROIS TEXTES

1 - Défense de la sottise -

La sottise est le dernier rempart efficace contre la suprématie inique des beaux esprits qui ne gagnent leur cause qu'avec la lâche, fourbe, insidieuse subtilité de leur pensée.

L'intelligence est torve, sinueuse, secrète. La sottise est franche, directe, claire. L'intelligence aime les énigmes, se complaît dans le mystère, se masque avec éclat. La sottise méprise l'obscurité, fuit l'hermétisme, se dévoile sans ambages. La sottise n'a rien à cacher, rien à prouver, rien à vendre, tout à perdre. Donc rien à gagner. L'intelligence caresse, séduit, convainc avec des fioritures de langage. La sottise cogne. Elle n'use d'aussi vains détours indignes de tout bon sot qui se respecte.

Le sot aime les carottes, les navets et les soupes chaudes. Le bel esprit ne se préoccupe que d'affaires qui ne se mangent pas. Et qui vient se plaindre de crever de faim quand vient la bise ? Le sot ne porte pas le regard plus loin que son sillon. Le bel esprit le raille. Et qui vient crier famine l'hiver venu ? Le sot n'argumente pas, il frappe. En cela les faits lui donnent toujours raison, la loi en vigueur ici-bas étant celle du plus fort.

Les sots ignorent l'alchimie étrange de la terre mais eux au moins y font pousser patates, poireaux, tomates. Les sots ne savent rien des mystères cosmiques, mais ils ont de quoi tenir l'hiver. Ils n'ont rien dans la tête mais tout dans les poings.

Les sots n'ont pas d'amis mais plein de bois pour leur feu. Ils sont seuls mais heureux de l'être. Ils sont dépourvus d'intelligence et sans malice, sans ironie, sans vanité peuvent s'en vanter.

Raphaël Zacharie de Izarra

=======

2 - Éloge de la bêtise -

Je chéris et loue la bêtise. La bêtise est une haute qualité, une authentique vertu, le rempart absolu contre la souveraine et tyrannique intelligence qui l'écrase, la méprise, la persécute. La bêtise est l'apanage de ceux qui sont totalement dépourvus d'intelligence, et qui sont par conséquent remplis de saines certitudes, d'inébranlables convictions, de salutaires illusions. La bêtise empêche de trop penser, elle pousse à l'action irréfléchie. Elle éloigne et préserve fatalement l'être de la pensée stérile, creuse, futile.

La bêtise rend toujours heureux tandis que la réflexion angoisse. La bêtise résout tous les problèmes de la pensée en éliminant tout simplement la pensée. Le penseur se crée des problèmes, l'intelligence est inconfortable parce qu'elle pose des questions embarrassantes à l'homme. Les gens intelligents se posent toujours des questions insolubles. Alors que les gens sots ne se posent tout simplement pas de questions : voilà le secret de leur bonheur.

Les gens stupides cultivent leur jardin sans plus se poser de questions. Les gens intelligents se préoccupent plutôt du temps qu'il fait au-dessus de leur tête bien faite et en oublient totalement leurs activités horticoles. Ils s'y désintéressent parfaitement, préférant se torturer l'esprit avec des choses qui, aux yeux des gens bêtes, n'en valent pas la peine.

D'où la supériorité de la bêtise sur l'intelligence qui force l'heureux élu à cultiver son jardin. Et avec coeur encore. Alors que l'intelligence ne fait rien pousser du tout sous les pieds de ses victimes bien pourvues.

Raphaël Zacharie de Izarra

=======

3 - Encore un éloge de la bêtise -

La bêtise est le privilège de ceux qui ne sont pas habités par la vaine et méprisable intelligence.

L'intelligence, ce vernis de l'esprit... Cet habit d'apparat hautain et superficiel, cet artifice cérébral indigne de l'Homme, cette pollution mentale qui dénature si bien les pensées et met plein de mollesse dans le cerveau à la manière des substances nocives que l'on nomme héroïne, cocaïne, Marie-Jeanne... L'intelligence est un poison dangereux et la bêtise est son naturel antidote.

L'intelligence empêche l'action, elle freine l'instinct et la saine pensée primaire. L'intelligence oblige les gens à penser de plus en plus et donc à faire des études, à se lancer dans la recherche. Elle excite la curiosité et génère maintes questions aussi difficiles qu'inutiles. En un mot l'intelligence pousse à la réflexion et de par ce fait empêche de vivre. Il est tellement plus agréable, plus facile de ne point penser et de se laisser guider par l'instinct, l'ignorance, l'innocence, ou par l'autorité ecclésiastique, politique, syndicale...

Obéir sans penser, n'est-ce pas l'assurance de ne jamais commettre d'erreur par soi-même ? Jamais de remords avec la bêtise, puisqu'elle excuse à peu près tout. Alors que l'intelligence est au contraire un facteur de responsabilités pénales, morale, professionnelle. Plein d'ennuis en perspective avec l'intelligence...

La bêtise heureusement empêche le développement de la pensée : c'est le confort de l'esprit par excellence. La bêtise est l'apanage des authentiques esthètes soucieux de leur qualité de vie.

Raphaël Zacharie de Izarra

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