It’s fun being in advertising. You get to do all kinds of interesting things, and you get to use your brain, most of the time, to figure out brands and positions and how to sell and how to move your client’s product or service or whatever forward. You deal in demographics and research and a multitude of things with a multitude of interesting people.
You usually get paid fairly well and you also get to stay razor-sharp as you’re paranoid about losing accounts, losing your cool job, getting older, being too young, being too passive, being too aggressive, being too right, or being too wrong.
Most of us can live with the paranoia. It’s part of the profession. One day, you wake up and realize that you’re not paranoid, unless you are. All those things you think are happening to you are probably, in reality, happening to you. Anyway, on the day you wake up and realize that you’re not paranoid, you also realize that in this type of career, angst is okay. You can deal with it.
There are things you can do. There are all kinds of new tools to use that will, if you take the time to learn how to use them, give you entree to a career, extend your career life expectancy, and provide interesting communications solutions for clients and colleagues. You know people who know people and that will help. You’re eternally optimistic — you’d better be — and that will help. You love rejection, which also comes in handy in dating, and you haven’t been fired in over a year so you almost feel that you don’t have to update your links to your resume and your work. Almost.
So, all in all, things are great. Life is good. But there are things built in to our profession that we can’t overcome, defeat, mitigate, dodge, or preclude. These things are people. They are civilians who know nothing about what we do but think they do. They usually come disguised as friends and family and complete strangers. They all come with opinions of what your professional life is about and what you do. You see, although you’ve come to terms with your vocation and its ups and downs, most people you know haven’t.
Cousin Meryl: “Chad, it’s so good to see you. I hear you’re in advertising. What station do you work for?”
Chad: “Hi, cousin Meryl. You look great. I see that ointment is working. I work for an ad agency, not a station.”
Cousin Meryl: “I don’t understand. I thought you were like ‘Mad Men’ and they work at ‘the TV.’”
Chad: “Well, we don’t work at ‘the TV.’ We sometimes make what goes on TV at our ad agency. ‘Mad Men’ is about ad agencies. ‘Mad Men’ is a fictional show.”
Cousin Meryl: “Well, so what do you do then?”
Uncle Fred: ”It’s like ‘Thirtysomething.’ You’re like ‘Thirtysomething.’ I hope you’re not like that red-headed guy. I couldn’t stand him.”
Tanya: “Neither could I. And I’m right. Where is his career now? Over! But the show was very perceptive about your occupation. So, you just sit around and think of ideas and get paid a lot of money. That I can see from your shoes. How much did they cost? You make too much money. I wouldn’t pay my lawyer that kind of money.”
Chad: “’Thirtysomething’ is almost 30 years old. Well, I’m an art director.”
Cousin Meryl: “You draw the pictures? I think your cousin Mort does that. He’s a painter. What kind of job is that, an art director?”
Uncle Fred: “Mort paints houses. Do you do ‘The Photoshop’? Chris has a zit in her graduation picture. Can you take it out? The zit? They took out a woman’s thighs for Target. I loved that ‘Bo Knows’ for the sneakers. You know, Bo Jackson played baseball and football.”
Chad: “Uncle Fred, ‘Bo Knows’ was from 1989. It was for Nike.”
Uncle Fred: “Did you do that one? Nike? Isn’t that Jordan? He’s not as good as Oscar Robertson. If you see him, tell him that and tell him his pal Rodman has too many tattoos. Ridiculous.”
Chad: “No, I didn’t do that one. I was six. I’ll tell Mike when I see him. I’m an art director. I work with my partner and a group of people.”
Tanya: “I didn’t know you were gay.”
Chad: “I’m not, I have a copywriter partner.”
Uncle Fred: “It’s okay if you’re gay. I love that Miller Lite — Tastes Great. Less Filling. Terrific. I drink Pabst.”
Chad: “They started in 1974.”
Cousin Meryl: “I loved that one. Why can’t you do things like that? So, you and your life partner work with a group of people to do what? You should think about painting houses like Mort. He has a boat.”
Chad: “Simply, we make advertising. We use strategy and account planning and…a number of venues like TV and social media and…”
Stevie: “Social Media… Like ‘The Facebook.’ Right?”
Tanya: “How many are in this group?”
Chad: “We have sixteen in our group.”
Tanya: “It takes all those people to make an advertising commercial? All the commercials I see stink. My three-year-old could do them.”
Chad: “It’s not just commercials. We do things like social media. It’s a challenging job not everyone can…digital is…”
Tanya: “Social media? You mean ‘The Facebook’ where old people take pictures of their food? They pay you for that? Social media stinks.”
Stevie: “How much do you make? You know, I’m thinking of getting out of septic. I’m very creative. I do slogans. How much do you pay for slogans? Nice shoes. What’d you pay for them? I hear you’re gay.”
Cousin Meryl: “Since you’re an expert…do you use a browser on the Internet or ‘The Google’?”
Uncle Fred: “Stay off the Internet, that Obama is watching you right now. He knows if you’re looking at porn.”
Tanya: “I hear they are putting advertisements on ‘The Google’ that follow you. That stinks.
Stevie: “Do you know the Kardashians? I have an idea for their commercial. One of them is married to a black guy. A rapper. Do you know him? I have a commercial for him, too. We could put it on “The Facebook.’ What will they pay?”
Tanya: “So, is everyone in your group gay? I hear advertising and clothing designers are mostly gay. When did you know you were gay? You know, I find women’s bodies very alluring, but only in a normal way, not like you and your friend. You must bring your partner over for dinner one night.”
And so it goes. From all our family and all our friends and those around us, every day, we all get tremendous support as advertising people. It’s okay, though, because after talking to our friends and family, we can always go home and decompress by figuring out what to do after we’re fired the next time.