What Do We All Want, And What Difference Does It Make?

There was a very good comment on yesterday’s post that questioned why advertising agencies overcomplicate the process so much when it could be so easy.

I’m sure Boobs (the commenter) is already aware of this, but it’s all down to the different motives of the people involved.

On the surface, we all want to make good ads that sell the products or services of our clients. However, under the surface are the other motives.

I’ll gloss over the fact that many creatives just want to win awards (I think I’ve written about that before), and, I assume, many planners want to do the same (by the way, how did planners get ownership of an ad’s effectiveness? So they write those papers that you have to submit to effectiveness awards, but surely the actual effectiveness itself is down to a number of other factors) and mention instead the overall motivation for much that is shitty on Planet Earth: money.

The advertising process is complicated because the more complicated a process gets, the more people have to be involved and the more people who are involved, the more an agency can charge for all those people. This is the reason why traditional ad agencies want to be responsible for digital/design/DM and everything else that used to be done by specialists: there’s a big old pie out there, and the people in charge want every fucking slice they can get their hands on.

If you asked most non-creatives (and probably quite a few creatives) what they want out of their day’s work, the answer would be ‘money’. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that. Money’s nice and nice things cost money. But then it begs the question: why advertising? There are surely better, more enjoyable ways to make more cash for less work than the creation of ads. Even the skill-sets involved in being client friendly (account management) or doing research (planning) must be useable in a host of more lucrative industries.

I wrote recently how I believed that the residual reputations of an agency can attract people to work there, even if the fuel behind that name burnt out long ago. I think it might be the same with the whole industry. Many people think that advertising is bad at branding itself, but I think that the image of a Porsche-driving fat-cat pulling up to the Ivy for lunch with the famous star of their new campaign is one that still lives on for many people.

Advertising seems like an office job with more glamour than most, so it sometimes attracts the kind of people who want money, but also the kind of people who want to bask in the perceived trimmings. But there’s a strong chance those perceived trimmings do not include ‘the making of great ads’ so much as looking like your life is more fun that that of your chums who earn more than you in The City.

You may have entered this industry with more ‘noble’ intentions, but you’re almost certainly spending your days with people who didn’t.