John Cusak’s character in the movie “Say Anything”: “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”
Dude walks past me, gives me the hairy eyeball, so I go “What?”
And he points at my Southwest Airlines t-shirt. (Southwest is a client of ours.) I say what? and he points at my t-shirt and snickers, so I go what again and he says, “Sold out to The Man, eh? Look at you, wearin’ a t-shirt with the client’s name on it!”
I could tell he was kinda kidding … and kinda not.
I laughed agreeably and we both went our separate ways. Later on I had one of those “Man-I-wish-I’d-said” moments. I wish I’d said, “Dude, look where you work. You’re at an advertising agency, for Chissake. What do you think this is? Walden Pond?”
And as for selling out? That’s what we do. Selling, that is. Selling out is a phrase I’ll reserve to describe doing things I don’t believe in, for personal promotion or profit.
It made me wonder how many creatives out there share his attitude; who really don’t embrace what it is they do for a living. Considering all the snarky sales-free advertising I see out there, I’m guessing more than a few.
I think part of the problem is that much of today’s work is being crafted by creative people who are simply disdainful of their clients’ products, or of their customers. Perhaps, too, it could be that they hate the advertising business itself. These are people who — with sufficient amounts of alcohol in them — might privately admit they hate thinking of themselves as salespeople. Salsepeople suck, you see. True “creatives,” well, they’re more like that cute Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything. Real creatives, they’re edgy.
See, it’s not cool to be too into our clients’ products. Cool creatives have what’s known as “ironic remove.” Ironic remove means nothing impresses them. They are far above the scrum and rattle of pedestrian life, up in a lofty sphere where worldly things have no effect upon their excellent selves.
The thing is, I don’t know how you can write a single persuasive sentence without loving the product you’re working on, without really knowing what appeals to its customers.
Me, I happen to love our clients’ stuff; their airlines, their cars, their clothes, all of it. I don’t mind being a salesman.