Fun, anyone?

Run, run rabbit run
Dig that hole, forget the sun
And when at last the work is done
Don’t sit down, it’s time to dig another one 
– Breathe, Pink Floyd.

“When you come from Italy, you have to realise that football is more like a job, like work from 9-5. You have to get one point, or you have to get three points. I sort of lost the feeling of what football is all about. It’s a game, you’ve got to have fun.” – Dennis Bergkamp.

“Does anyone remember laughter?” – Robert Plant.

In addition, somewhere near the end of this excellent chat between Tim Bell and David Abbott, Mr. Abbott extols the virtues of having fun in advertising.

If you’re not persuaded by Pink, Dennis, Robert or David, can I please make the case for enjoying your job a bit more than you currently do?

The odd thing is, I don’t think anyone disagrees with that as an idea. Why would anyone not want to have fun? The problem comes when you don’t feel you can give yourself permission to enjoy yourself.

It may be a cliché, but every advertising generation seems to think that the one before it was the last to have a good time, and they’ve sadly turned up just as the party has become a depressing mess of empty beer cans and three final stragglers asleep on the stairs. But even today, with you possibly believing the opposite, the truth is that the job is intrinsically much more fun than literally 99% of other jobs.

Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why:

  1. You can wear what you want. Beyond that, you can even dress ‘creatively’ and it will be generally accepted. I once worked with an ECD who wore a cape, a witchfinder’s hat and toeless socks with sandals. He earned well over $500,000 a year. Have you seen what bus drivers have to wear? Or Burger King chefs? The good news is, you don’t have to dress like them, but you can if you want to, and that’s fun.
  2. Part of your job requires you to do all the fun things people like to do when they’re not working. Reading magazines, watching movies, visiting art galleries… These are all essential pastimes for an advertising creative. Some enterprising people even find a way to charge that stuff back to the client, or add it to their tax deductions. Which brings us to…
  3. Expenses. I don’t know how generous your agency or government is, but if you think most jobs can get media entertainment for free, or tax-free, you are sadly mistaken. Over the years my job has allowed me to acquire video games, coffee table books and even the odd coffee table. That was more fun than paying full price for all that jazz. From time to time you even get the chance to load up on shoot-loot, then fill your office with groovy junk. Somewhere in my garage I have a special can of Pepsi that cost $200 to make.
  4. Creative advertising is one of the best and easiest ways to meet interesting people. It might be an expert in a field related to your brief, a stunt person on a film set, or countless directors, producers, editors, engineers, designers, photographers etc. Then there’s the celebrities: over my career I’ve met all sorts of them, from Posh Spice and Terence Stamp to Isaac Hayes and Thierry Henry. Every single time I did that it was fun, fun, fun.
  5. I guess some of the travel might be dull (I’ve been to Slough and Reading far too many times), but you should have a decent chance of being able to swing a free trip to another country, something most people have to pay a lot of money for, and – ugh– fucking organise. And they might not even get to go business class! Maybe it’s a shoot in Prague, a factory tour in France, or a conference in Miami. Often you will be accompanied by a person who pays for the drinks. Drink those drinks. Wake up with a hangover. Eat a big free breakfast. Get in a car driven by someone else. Spend the day sitting in front of a video monitor while people offer to get you coffee. By far the funnest way to deal with a headache and dehydration.
  6. Production is fun. Choosing photographers, directors, illustrators, VO artists etc. that you would otherwise never interact with is fun. Then asking them to do stuff that you don’t have to pay for is fun. And if you don’t like it you can ask for more stuff. That’s also fun! Sometimes.
  7. Seeing your stuff for real is fun. Driving past your billboard is fun. Seeing your stuff on TV is fun. Hell, even seeing your stuff online might even be fun, especially if you’ve invented a game. Games are fun!
  8. Coming up with ads is fun. Yes, I know it’s a bit of a grind when you have to write boring lines or do the umpteenth reversioning of something shit, but on the whole, being paid to think up things other people might enjoy can be FUN. You might not see it that way because you’ve had to do it so many times, but take a step back and look what you get asked to do for actual money. I repeat: it’s more fun than literally 99% of jobs.

So maybe you’ll have more fun if you look at your day through the lens of how much fun it could contain. Or look at how you can squeeze some fun out of situations you previously considered to be funless. Sure, you can grumble about your lot if you want, and we all do that from time to time, but come on… most of the time it can be pretty darn fun.