October 28, 2013

Advertising Needs Troublemakers

The advertising industry has become too respectable, too congenial, and too polite.

We are in desperate need of troublemakers. We need shit-disturbers. We need hell-raisers.

We need the kind of quarrelsome, pugnacious, opinionated people that make the arts vibrant and interesting.

There's way too much consensus. Way too much cordiality. Way too little controversy.

Attending an advertising conference these days is like going to an insurance seminar. It is full of bland, head-nodding jargon-monkeys who are very keen on swallowing whole the conventional blather of smug "experts."

Nobody seems inclined to challenge the wearisome assertions of modern-day wizards, no matter how many times they've been wrong.

It's all backwards. Rebelliousness is supposed to be a characteristic of youth. But the only people I hear wailing about the insufferable tedium of ad-think these days are old fools like me.

It ain't supposed to be this way. We need people who aren't afraid to get up on stage at the next "big data" conference and pull their pants down.

We need people who aren't afraid to break a layout over a client's head.

We need people who give a shit.

You know what you call people who give a shit?


Last week I gave a talk at a conference sponsored by the 4A's called, "The Battle For The World's Most Valuable Consumer." You can find a transcript of the talk here.


Dominic Hiatt said...

I'm with you.

Dingo said...

Unfortunately 'Sir' Marty Sorrell bought all the agencies and fired all the troublemakers. Accountants only like yes men.

TMaker said...

Troublemakers like to be well paid for causing trouble. And as we all know creatives salaries got a 800% pay cut since the 80's.

Doug Garnett said...

Excellent observation. With the ultimate irony being that all the conformists dress themselves up in the trappings of rebellion. Talk big about breaking the mold...thinking outside the box... Btw...is it possible that if you actually think there's a box, that's the first indicator of a problem?

Cecil B. DeMille said...

Any agency that owes its fealty to anyone other than the client is a sham. Advertising sold its soul years ago – what it had of one – and is now essentially a zombie. The work seems to reflect that.

timorr said...

I think too many of us gave up drinking. Drinking made us reckless, recklessness cost us clients and losing clients made us resourceful.

Riverfish Music said...

Anyone up for starting a revolution?

Casperpesky said...

Anyone spotted the irony in all the comments here respectfully, congenially and politely agreeing with the original post?

Cecil B. DeMille said...

In the den of troublemakers, is not the conformist the black sheep?

Daniel said...

Sadly, for every troublemaker, there is a fucking nerd with a thousand relatable data points that dismisses his brave idea and replaces it with a "law". Im a media man and even I hate the ever increasing reliance on safe data and proven theory over ideas and creativity. Its killing us all - slowly

Carolyn said...

Couldn't agree more.

Dan Plant said...

you also need clients that have the backbone to agree with said troublemakers rather than someone looking to just protect their paycheck and/or stock options.

Matt Barash said...

Great post. To do it successfully you need to remember the following:
- Pay attention to detail
- Always be on
- Don't be snarky
- Don't front/Keep it real
- Listen more than you speak
- Study the masters
- Remember, nice guys always finish first.

Matt said...

Brilliance is more often forged in the foundry of failure than not. People are too afraid to fail and therefore end up playing it safe. Why put yourself at risk when you can always blame the data? We need to take personal responsibility for our ideas. Live them and love them. Be fearless and shake shit up. That goes double for clients.