I was talking to another copywriter at the end of last year and he was telling me about his friend’s website, which has now become so successful that the guy has left advertising and runs the site full-time (it’s really fun. I’d link to it but I think the friend and the copywriter want to remain anonymous).
The copywriter then leaned back with a rueful smile on his face and said, ‘The lucky bastard. He got out.’
I paused for a moment than said, ‘You know he wasn’t working in a call centre or down a mine. He ‘got out’ of one of the most appealing office jobs in the world.’
Then we had a bit of a laugh at how ridiculous it was, but we both recognised that, even when you’re talking about ‘escaping’ being an ad creative, there is still an element of attractiveness to it. This is because of our natural human need to constantly seek improvements – the dissatisfaction that drives most of us forwards.
Another element of this is down to the (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again) reduced appeal of working in advertising. The above example shows very clearly that new opportunities exist for creative people to express themselves in ways that are equally or more appealing than the creation of adverts. What once felt like the enormous fun of possibly spunking £1,000,000 getting Ridley Scott to bring your words to life in Barbados now seems more like a chore where the fragmentation of channels and budgets either reshapes the ‘fun’ so that it’s unrecognisable or removes it all together. I’m sure a lot of people will wax lyrical about how the current flux of technology and opportunities in advertising is really exciting, but if they were really honest, they’ve either had the Ridley Scott thrill already, or it’s now so remote that it can be easily dismissed as a vulgar indulgence.
So where does that leave us? Do you want to get out, or is advertising still hitching its skirt up and showing you a glimpse of thigh?
I wonder if the answer lies in being in and out. Why can’t you work in advertising (particularly if you’re freelance) and create a short film/website/book/album? Then you might find that one of your outs takes up too much time and you have to leave, and then maybe you can come back. Or not. Or maybe advertising tempts you full time and you put your hardcore trance (is that a genre?) software project on hold. Or not.
2010: embrace a messy life.
UPDATE: here’s a related article (thanks, D).