February 02, 2015

The 5 Kinds Of Advertising Troublemakers

I am finishing up a new book called Advertising Needs Troublemakers. The premise of the book is, I believe, self-evident.

One of the aspects of writing the book that has become interesting to me is the realization that while the ad business needs a certain type of troublemaker, there is a whole range of troublemakers, and most of them we don't need.

I've thought about the troublemakers I have come across in the agency business and here are a few of the categories:

1. The Asshole:  Not all troublemakers are assholes. But all assholes are troublemakers. The asshole cannot be trusted. He can't be trusted to give you reliable information from a client. He can't be trusted to deliver reliable information from you to a client. He can't be trusted to speak the truth about anything or anyone. He can't be trusted to address problems head on. He tells you half the truth half the time. He manipulates information to his own advantage and plants seeds of discontent among the naive and the impressionable.

2. The Goddess: The goddess's major asset is not her intelligence, her ability, or her judgment. Her leverage is in her relationship with a client. The goddess is not the agency's person at the client, she is the client's person at the agency. She talks like a client, thinks like a client, and expects to be treated like a client. You may not question her judgment because she speaks for the client and with the authority of the .

3. The God: The god knows how to do everyone's job but his own. He knows what the media plan should look like, how the copy should sound, and what the strategy should be. The only thing he can't do is his own job. When he is alone with a client, and is not protected by his entourage, the result is invariably a majestic fuck-up and weeks of more work.

4. The Chosen One. There is no bigger troublemaker than the chosen one. The chosen one usually gets his status from having had one big random advertising success, often at another agency. The big boss, who is tired and overwrought, has mistakenly hand-picked the chosen one and stepped away from the plate. The chosen one is now your problem.

5. The Real Deal. And then there is the real deal. The real deal causes trouble by asking the right questions. The real deal will not accept sloppy work or sloppy answers. The real deal drives us crazy with questions we think are irrelevant. But the real deal doesn't think the way we do. That's what makes the real deal real.

Tomorrow, my post about Super Bowl advertising, "Toe Fungus Comes Of Age." Don't miss it.


Cecil B. DeMille said...

What would you call someone who: has no creative talent, has no ability to trust the people who have the creative talent, wants to be the hero all the time, can't let anything be, will always want to do "something like this other ad I found" and, as owner and Chief Creative Officer, cannot be refuted or ignored?

Just wondering. I absolutely do NOT deal with someone who is exactly described above on a daily basis. Nope. No sir.

bob hoffman said...

I'd call that just about par for the course

Neno said...

sadly, in our ego-inflated industry everybody thinks he/she is the real deal.

LeShann said...

"In the land of the blind..."

Jimmy Johns said...

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Cecil B. DeMille said...

This explains why I suck at golf, then.

Paul Dushkind said...

I detect a contradiction. In the past, you have spoken about how simplifiers are preferable to complicators. But the person who drives people crazy with questions that people consider irrelevant, who doesn't think like the rest of the team, who doesn't accept sloppy work, and so on, is just that: a complicator. Remember the AE who wanted to conduct research on why people eat breakfast?

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