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Not So Young And In Love With Advertising

Posted on November 17, 2011 and read 3,869 times

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jordanatlas Not So Young And In Love With AdvertisingJordan Atlas
Co-Creative Lead
Ignited

Hi, my name is Jordan and I love advertising.

Yes, you read that correctly. I. LOVE. ADVERTISING. I know it’s not a popular or cool admission to cop to these days but, well, I gave up on “cool” a long time ago. My love affair and obsession with advertising started over 16 years ago, and although we’ve had our ups and downs, the passion and fire that we share doesn’t seem to be waning even in the slightest. If anything, it’s getting stronger and more intense with every passing day. Ironically however, my growing excitement and commitment to advertising is coinciding with the general public’s disdain, or perhaps worse, indifference for the industry that I hold so dear. And like any person who is in love or obsessed, I feel a tremendous amount of motivation to defend the honor of my beloved and make a case for the hidden beauty and forgotten power of this great entity.

Being in love with advertising certainly has its price. At times this love feels like an addiction and it’s one that I can’t seem to kick. It’s kind of a problem. But since our industry was founded on and still thrives on problem solving, I am fully confident that there is a powerful solution for my lovesick blues. Now, I am a grown man, and I would never blame anyone else for my problems, but there are few people that I feel need calling out for their actions that have directly led to my obsessed predicament. Hall of fame adman Mike Tesch and CP+B ‘s Worldwide CCO Rob Reilly are responsible for introducing me to advertising. It was kind of a blind date. I was a mediocre (at best) retoucher working in a small advertising agency in South Florida. I knew nothing about advertising and it knew even less about me. Mike was the creative director and he hired Rob, who at the time was a young copywriter from New York. Between the two of them, they created the work that lit the initial fuse which opened my eyes to the powerful alchemy created by the pairing of words and pictures. It was love at first sight and, well, we’ve all seen the movies, you know how it goes.

The next person that has directly led to my advertising obsession is someone I’ve never actually met, but that shouldn’t excuse him from being recognized for his contribution to my condition. Jim Riswold is a gateway creative drug if ever there was one. (Note: if you are new to advertising, and thus unfamiliar with Jim, a quick Google search will be well worth your while. Be warned, his work is pretty contagious and may lead to hearts fluttering around your head). From what I understand, Jim didn’t even like advertising. Yet, instead of just sitting back and ignoring it, he joined it. He joined it; he broke it; he rebuilt it; he changed the potential for what it could make you feel. Most advertising tells you something. Good advertising shows you something. But the stuff that makes you truly fall in love is the stuff that makes you feel something. Jim’s work did that. He reset what was possible from a cultural perspective and unleashed a body of work that could sit comfortably and confidently next to any award-winning output from the more glamorous industries such as music, film and theater.

The last of my influencers is David Droga. David is a classically trained ad guy who has demonstrated, perhaps more than anyone else, why someone could and should love advertising. His work creates rich stories and experiences that shatter the expectations and limitations of what can be called an ad. In other words, his work is so influential and captivating that people actually forget it’s advertising.

That really is the point that I am trying to make. We, as advertisers, have the power to transcend the preconceived notions of what our industry stands for and produces. We can change the perception and remind people, through the consistency of our output, just how amazing we can be. Advertising is in need of a rebranding campaign and it’s something all of us can do in concert rather than in competition. In effect, we are all partners in a pro bono campaign for the advertising industry. This means that everything we do moving forward either will serve to lift our industry into the stratosphere of greatness it so often flirts with or sadly keep it earthbound under the weight of the shouting, the starbursts and the unoriginality. Let me be clear, this campaign doesn’t need your money, your signature or your email. It needs your restraint, sophistication and elegance. It needs your commitment to provide more of what people need to hear and less of what we as marketers want to say.

We’ve done it before, and we can do it again. Think about the things that we accomplish when we are amazing. We’ve gotten presidents elected (a few times if memory serves); we’ve gotten kids to quit smoking; and we’ve gotten clean water to third-world countries. We’ve also entertained and brought joy and elation. We’ve created indelible branded characters and we’ve changed the cultural vernacular to hilarious and captivating results. Perhaps, most importantly, we’ve helped businesses solve problems, thrive and succeed. I know I sound like someone who is young (I’m actually not so young) and in love (I totally am). I love this industry and I want more people to love it along with me. What we do is important, but we have to continue to do it with importance and humanity. People like to say that advertising nowadays is a two-way conversation, one that has moved from monologues to dialogues. I believe we were always a dialogue (when we did it right) but only recently have we gotten more immediate channels to demonstrate it. In fact, I remember a woman in college who was so intrigued and engaged with the iconic Absolut Vodka campaign that she collected every single one of those ads and decorated her dorm room with them as if they were pieces of art. You might even say it was the precursor to the wall post. Way before there was a “share” or “like” button, people were sharing and liking. Even loving. We were once thought of as the engine of commerce. We can be thought of that way again, but only if we keep that engine a well-oiled one.

Our agency does its best to live up to these ideals and produce work that strives to make a deeper connection with people. A recent example of this is our “Can You Play?” Campaign for Konami’s 2012 Pro Evolution Soccer title. More than just telling people that this video game is the closest thing to the actual game of soccer, we created a character to demonstrate it. His name is Robert Roberto Roberto and his refusal to acknowledge the boundaries between soccer and real life has led to work that our agency, our clients and our consumers can love equally.

I understand and openly admit that there is a whole other side of advertising that I am not talking about or even acknowledging, which is entirely by choice. I am choosing to focus on the moments where we, as clients and agencies, are incendiary and wonderful, as opposed to the instances where we loudly and offensively fumble over ourselves. These moments of magic are the exception rather than the rule. Imagine if the opposite were true.

I know this sounds hopelessly optimistic.  What can I say? Love is blind.





  • http://twitter.com/chadvertising73 chad grandey

    Cheers to that brother! #Tesch

  • http://twitter.com/chadvertising73 chad grandey

    Cheers to that brother! #Tesch

  • http://twitter.com/jeffmarx Jeff Marx

    “restraint, sophistication and elegance.” <–
    love

  • http://twitter.com/jeffmarx Jeff Marx

    “restraint, sophistication and elegance” <— love

  • Lynn Wolf

    Beautifully expressed, Jordan!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Lynn! Beautifully and exquisitely expressed! I can truly feel your Love and passion through your writing! I’m so happy for you Jordan! You seem to be surrounded by and fulfilled with Pure Love in your personal and professional life! You deserve it!

  • Kartik Mani

    Lynn, call me a jilted lover but i have lost it for advertising. And while your nicely written piece did something to rekindle the old flame, i find myself increasingly disillusioned by the entire game. I find it hard to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) without wondering who’ll read this and if they care. Or to watch the sheer mediocrity on TV these days, being paraded like fine animals at a Circus. I by no means claim to have standards higher than the industry. In fact i find myself on the crossroads. After spending 15 years writing ads (no cannes winning nike ads in them) i find myself asking ‘What next?”. It’s driven to me the point of insanity but i still can’t get myself to fall back in love with advertising. And Lynn, i’m not one those inflexible ‘old school’ blokes. I LIKE social media. I dig digital. And yet…

  • Mike Bayfield

    Most advertising is dreadful. 

    So are most movies, books, pop songs…

    But among them all are moments of pure inspiration and beauty. That’s what keeps us doing what we do, trying to emulate and surpass the best. It’s a daily struggle, which often seems fruitless and soul-destroying. But when you get it right, it’s worth all the hair pulling, teeth gnashing and desk pounding.

    I’m a copywriter and, like you,  not so young, but I still love it. It’s refreshing to hear that passion expressed and shared, when there’s so much negativity about what we do, especially in the current economic climate characterised by corporate greed . 

    As long as we retain our integrity and morality, advertising can be a force for  great good, educating, enlightening and - when done well – hugely entertaining. 

    Optimism is never hopeless.

  • http://twitter.com/JordanAtlas23 Jordan Atlas

    MIke,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to both read this and reply. I love the idea of retaining “our integrity and morality”. Beautifully stated.

    Thank you,

    Jordan

  • Mike Bayfield

    A pleasure. If we don’t stick up for ourselves, who will?

    I read an article in The Guardian here recently entitled ‘Advertising is a poison that demeans even love – and we’re all hooked.’ 

    As you can guess, it didn’t paint a very pretty picture of us.

    So it’s nice to be reassured that I haven’t sold my soul to the Devil.

    Keep the faith.

    Mike

  • joao geada

    We love the same ‘lady’. Count me in.


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