If you work for a top 30 agency, I’ll bet you a fucking ton of cash that there’s someone pretty high up in your creative department who has never done a single piece of advertising work that you have either heard of or respect.
It might be a talentless chap or chapess who blagged his way into CD-ing a digital agency when they were desperate for anyone half decent (although as I understand it, for the most part ,that is still very much the case) and then kept that role when your agency bought their place. Now he’s a CD of Top 30 Place Who Were Gagging For Some Digi Creds, despite being fairly shit at the C part of CD.
It might be a happy, smiley fella who has popped over from some shop in the States where he was Head of Experiential Communications. Now, having designed a shop front for Wankado and Son that won a Silver Andy and a Copper Mobius award, he’s pretty hot shit. Even hotter shit is his headhunter, who has managed to convince Top 30 Place Who Want To Look Like They Are Forward Thinking/Cool that they need this guy.
It might be a useless cunt who has never done a good ad in his or her life but is really darn good with the clients and has worked out exactly which anuses to lick at Top 30 Agency Who Couldn’t Really Give A Fuck About Whether Or Not Their Ads Are 9/10 Or 6/10, and now here he is: boss of a bunch of people who are far better creatives than he.
In the three categories above there are many, many people who are now climbing to the top of the creative depts of big agencies. Good God, I’d love to name names, but that’s the great thing about this: I don’t have to. We all know about the American ‘designer’ who became a CD on a big account at a big agency before being found out and moving on to a few more agencies where the same process happened. Every one of us has encountered a some nimrod who can spout the right digital buzzwords in the right ears to cover up the fact that he’s done no good ads. And we’ve all been down the pub when our friend from another agency explains in stunned disbelief how their cracking idea has been blown out by a retard who’s never even heard of John Webster.
But the real question about this is why? Aside from the reasons I have suggested above, this phenomenon is both a symptom and a cause of the general Fucking Of Creativity that is undeniably going on right across the world: creativity itself is less important, so promoting client-friendly uncreative people is the current move for an MD to make. Equally, the more these berks maintain client retention while simultaneously producing creative work that no one really cares about, the longer they will keep their jobs and the harder creativity gets fucked.
The title of this post will be familiar to anyone who had worked in a proper creative department (by that I mean one staffed mainly by people who have been regulars in The Book). Whenever anyone got too big for their boots or received an undeserved promotion the rest of the department would ask, ‘But what’s he done?’ That was because everyone rose and fell on the back of one thing: their work. The ads they made. The shiny baubles they won for those ads being appreciated by their peers in award schemes that held more sway than the current batch.
Now, if you have three Pencils, they could be for Digital Crafts Cinematography, Writing for Design and Live Action Special Effects. Now, that doesn’t mean your three ads are shit, but it does mean that your award shelf looks the same as the guy down the hall who has won best 60″ TV ad three years running.
So what does it matter? It doesn’t, and everyone knows it. That’s why dildos are getting hired all over the place.
Is there an answer?
Well, you can choose to play the game and make sure you know how to make the people that matter like you.
Or you can accept that’s not why you got into the business, try to make the best ads you can and hope that works for you instead.
It might be a matter of how good you are. Obviously, route one is a brilliant development for people who know how to smile and press flesh but are shit at the somewhat trickier business of creating brilliant advertising. Route two only works for people who really love what they do and are prepared to sacrifice the most secure route to a payrise for a Bronze at Creative Circle.
Route three is being good at both. Fucking difficult but worth a try.