It strikes me that there are some things that are always assumed to be good or bad, whether or not that is actually the case.
Take, for instance, shoots abroad: jetting off to some other part of the world at someone else’s expense to sit around on a set or location then eat and drink in the most expensive restaurant you can find, also on someone else’s dollar.
Of course, that is often a pleasant experience, but it can be rendered shitemongous by a wide variety of factors: are you leaving your young kids/hot significant other behind (I know that can also be a plus point for some people)? Have you already been to said location on many occasions, thus exhausting its novelty value? Will you have to babysit an arsehole client or spend time with a hated account director? Is the ad likely to be rubbish, therefore ending up as a month-long waste of career time? Is said location (eg. Prague) fine for a day or two but pretty dull any longer than that? Is the location amazing in theory but quite grim in reality (Yes, Havana, I’m talking about you)?
Equally, choosing and meeting directors is fun if they are any good, but if not, trawling through Wankbucket Productions and Spaz Films is a strange kind of hell. You’ll be talking to them because Frank/Chris/Fredrik etc. didn’t want to know, and now you’re at some production company you’ve never heard of, talking to a director whose self-confidence is in inverse proportion to his talent. And you all have to pretend the ad you’re making isn’t a load of old plop, otherwise you’d shoot yourselves in a mercy-killing-cum-suicide-pact.
Then there’s the other side of the coin; the things that seem shit but aren’t (necessarily): for example, working on the worst account in the agency. Of course, this can often be awful, but before Cog, Grrr and Impossible Dream, Honda was one of the worst accounts in UK advertising. The work was dreadful and I can’t imagine people were to enthusiastic about trying to change that. But bad accounts are good for the same reason that good ones aren’t: do a good Nike ad and it’s just another good Nike ad, but turn Tesco, Honda or Philips around and you’ve really done something great. But you can only do that it you get the ‘shit’ brief on your desk.
What else are we supposed to like that’s actually dog mess? Award dos (surprisingly dull if you’ve been to a few. Especially if you’re neither on the pull or up for an award); Photo shoots (fucking boring unless you are very much that way inclined); agency occasions with free booze (wine always shit, beer always warm); being mentioned in Campaign (less prestigious than being mentioned in Razzle); D&AD entries if you’ve already had at least ten (they redefine ‘meaningless’).
But then there are things that are supposed to be shit that aren’t: meeting clients (if they’re good or interesting it can be a real pleasure/education); account people (some of them – particularly the younger ones – are quite pleasant company; getting fired (see if the grass really is greener elsewhere. It often is); working the weekend (great if you’re a freelancer) and your friends joining the ‘best agency in town’ (you might be jealous at first, but most people I know who work at ‘TBAIT’ fucking hate it there, wherever it may be).
I’m not saying that all the shit things are great and vice versa; just that poo can be disguised as a rainbow and vice versa.