How to Survive in Advertising
A lot of extremely credible, and no doubt, scientifically-tested rules that apply to horror movie survival can be used to ensure our own advertising industry longevity.
I'll get back to that in a minute. First, we must be aware of another potentially scary situation…
Years ago, a software program became capable of doing our job. Well, kind of. It produced mass quantities of ad ideas – all in blandly-adequate fashion. Acceptable creativity in ten seconds. About two coffee or martini sips worth of creative team time.
Is creativity merely an algorithm? Can a machine do that thing that not even strategists can realistically explain with a set formulaic definition? I've actually seen it defined with whimsical hand movements placed mid-sentence.
BETC Euro RSCG Worldwide, creators of the Creative Artificial Intelligence (CAI) technology, determined the software is only so clever. It's built with existing creative connections. Thankfully, enlightened humans are still superior. CAI was an experiment to demonstrate just that.
...But don't let your guard down quite yet. That's rule number one in advertising survival.
1. The moment you get comfortable and complacent is the moment you become obsolete. Think about it. If your "character" is not contributing to the main plot, you are potential prey. (Especially if you go off on your own, mock someone on the team, or live in Maine.)
2. The junior creatives are always right behind you. Always. They're hungry and they don't sleep. (Encourage them and let them inspire you. Seriously, you really don't want them turning on you.)
3. Anything you think you know about advertising you probably don't. The rules are always changing. Go with it. Arm yourself with current knowledge and collaborate with other creatives. (Whatever you do, do not take that shortcut you heard about from one of the locals. It never ends well.)
4. If an idea is dead, don't assume it's going to stay dead. An ambitious idea always has one last shot at reality. Theoretically, it could resurface at any time – with more power. Ideas love to avenge their own deaths. And, idea sequels are always in the works. (If the idea has access to a hockey mask get the hell out of there.)
5. Do not try to unmask creativity. It shows up where it wants, when it wants. It's everywhere and nowhere. It laughs maniacally and probably hangs out in a sweet lair during it's downtime. Whatever it is, it's certainly not a single software program. (Sooner or later, in a shocking orchestra-crescendoed plot twist, you'll realize it was actually you all along.)
Advertising enthusiast, idea-driven creative, relentless pursuer of insight Jennifer Hohn is a Senior Art Director at Vladimir Jones in Denver. This piece is cross-posted from Jennifer's blog.