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The Next Generation

Posted on May 1, 2005 and read 6,227 times

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It’s time to shed our snake skins. Working in messy offices with ping pong tables and wearing sandals to work appears at first to be a very liberal thing, but if you squint, you might realize we work in probably one of the most conservative industries in the world. Just try to do anything different and be ready to be gang banged by the same people that call themselves your colleagues.

Just ask the guys at Grip. They decided to have a round table ad agency where over 10 creative heads liason directly with the clients. To top if off they don’t tend to enter award shows, even though it was award shows that made their creatives famous. Ask anyone what they think of them, and you will more often than not, hear something negative, either banging the model, or the guys, or the work, or the salaries, or their new clients or amazing achievements. Sometimes I get the feeling everyone I talk to is a Grip shareholder. (I guess I missed the IPO.)

To be quite honest, the reason behind the Grip oppression is representative of a bigger industry problem. Fear. Fear of change, fear of somebody breaking the illusion we’ve had for so long, that 30 second gold winning commercials is what our industry is based on. That the agency model we have relied on is changing, that the ads we have made are going to die, that the way we get raises is going to disappear. The industry that is supposed to make new brands, move thousands of products of the shelves, stop people on their track with the latest and most creative trends is not that creative itself.

The industry I love, as I want it to be, doesn’t yet exist.

Who will make it? Dreamers, visionaries, challengers, little and big people who will work arm in arm building the next version of the ad industry. I call these people the “Next Generation”. Here is what they believe in:

The 86’ annual syndrome

Advertising professionals are now suffering from a serious case of psychological disorder, perhaps a childhood trauma when mom said they didn’t like their crayola comps that inevitably caused them to forever bash their peers in every way, manner or form, particularly online, as much as possible. I’m no Freud but I believe there is a serious problem with insecurity that causes people to insult others and their work in deconstructive ways. This is something that we deal with personally at ihaveanidea, maintaining open forums is like trying to clean the bathrooms in a prison jail on beef Burrito night.

The Next Generation won’t be obsessed with secretly bashing their peers’ work because they claim to have seen it the dusty ’86 annual. C’mon! Wake up, it’s advertising man. Everything has already been done. Your work is not creative, it’s just a new combination of something already done. I don’t think Mozart would have called Beethoven a hack because he composed pieces on the same scales, using the same instruments, arrangements and technical structures in his music.

The Next Generation will fight against this type of unconstructive mentality and find a vaccine for the ’86 Annual Syndrome.

Leggo my Ego

It’s easy to understand why there are egos in our industry. We act as if we’re superstars. We pretend our 30 second ads are Oscar movies. We jump agencies like whores.

The Next Generation will put aside the Prima Donnas and realize that teamwork is not tacky, when done right, it creates better ads. The next generation will also respect their peers and realize that without production managers, account executives, creative managers, and even the mailroom guys, you wouldn’t be able to make those shiny spanky ads, so respect them, and treat them with equality. Just because your name gets called to pick up the award doesn’t mean you did it on your own.

The hand the feeds you

Have you ever tried to develop a product or brand from scratch and tried to sell it around the world? Have you ever had a meeting with Wall-Mart executives to persuade them to carry your product line? Have you ever, ever dealt with the challenge of a bad sales quarter or year? Probably not, and that is why you think of your clients as uncreative cyborgs. Marketing is very hard. The skill set for being a product or brand manager is much wider than ours. Budgets, branding, legalities, competitive analysis, product introductions, sales quotas. Advertising is just a tiny amount of their time and responsibilities.

The Next Generation will respect their clients and their daunting tasks. Only when you respect the hand that feeds you will you be able to make great ads. If you worried more about selling Client Joe’s products than winning that fake bronze award, you would likely give birth to a better, more ‘creative ad’.

Neil French, one of the great advertising minds of this century always spends intimate time with the products he makes ads for. He reads about them, talks about them, looks at them, until they talk to him back and ‘poof’ magically write the ad for him. All he has to do is merely hold the pen and drink a glass of Rioja while it gets done.

The next generation will respect the product and the client.

The little people

How easy advertising people forget about the hard days of breaking in! Instead of putting a big wall so only 1 out of 200 juniors break in, the Next Generation will break it down and try to get as many of those in. They will then motivate and mentor them, to not just become advertising people, but to bloody take our comfy jobs away as quickly as possible because like David “D’man” Ogilvy said,

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”

The next generation will be well aware that giants are not born, they are made.

Community, not commune.

The advertising community is the backbone of the ad industry. In its most basic form it’s a group of people that help each other that build on one another’s achievements. You help ‘em, they help you.

Yet, for an industry that has an advertising club for every day of the week, it has an extremely poor community. Let me rephrase that, we have a non-existent community. I’ve been to many direct marketing, interactive and even marketing events and parties, and they make us look like a bunch of idiots. Plain and simply said, agencies don’t help agencies out. We’re all squatting in our agencies, and if you think ‘community’ is the annual beerathon at the local award show you’re wrong.

The Next Generation will realize that “community” is not an ad club or magazine or website, but the support you give your peers.

Email is telephone

Ignore all the “Add 3 inches to your Penis” emails you want but answer all your emails, no matter how stupid they are. Even a “no I’m not interested” merits to be written. You are hurting yourself and our new economic model by pretending that not answering emails is the right thing to do.

A big lesson for us has been contacting thousands of creative people and thousands of marketing professionals. The difference in email behavior is jaw dropping. If the CEO of HP or Amex Canada take the time to answer a simple email, why can’t you?

The New Generation will treat their inbox just like they do their telephones.

Run! It’s a suit!

It’s no secret. Suits and sandal-wearing creatives don’t mix. In fact, they don’t like each other, in fact they hate each other’s guts. I admit to hating a suit or two, and I admit that it wasn’t because of the job we were doing, but the miles and miles distancing us apart at the office. They come, crack a bad joke, drop off a shitload of work with inhuman deadlines and leave at 5. How can you not hate them?

The Next Generation will break these lines of separation and come to understand that suits (Act. Planners, Directors, Managers and Executives) can be very cool people, and that despite the fact they wear shinny shoes and write ‘ASAP’ in their emails, doesn’t mean they can’t tell funny stories or outdrink you at the bar. We’re all making ads, so let’s be friends, otherwise the distance will create grudges and consequently, bad ads.

Fun? Remember that?

I don’t know about you, but I got in this ridiculous business because I wanted to do TV ads with hot babes wearing skimpy thongs, giggling and drinking diet soda on a deserted Caribbean beach, while shooting it all from a helicopter.

I also wanted to not have to come to work at 9 am sharp, be able to take long walks in the middle of the day, sneak out for a movie and have the company pay for my magazine addiction. We’ve become stress obsessed and the Next Generation is going to rekindle that love of advertising that lies in its ability to let us have fun while earning a living. After all, why am I going to work weekends if I’m not having a blast?

Final Greymatter

The Next Generation is brewing, I know this, because some of them frequent ihaveanidea and I’ve had beers with them. Some of them are giants who own their own agencies, some of then are juniors without enough money to buy themselves a grave. Nonetheless, I know you’re there, hiding somewhere. Get ready, we need to push the Old Generation out aside quickly, swiftly and without any excuses, take over the reigns of this industry.


Ignacio Oreamuno
President
ihaveanidea






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