Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Junior dilemma.

The advertising industry sucks at training creatives. In fact, the industry has absolutely no idea or interest in how to train juniors.

The first supporting reason, is that the industry is based on the Hollywood module, where 1% of the very best creatives get paid astronomically well, and the other 99% will simply get by while waiting tables or live with their parents until 30. (Every Tom Cruise blockbuster needs 2000 extras, and we all can't be Tom.)

Also, there is no winning formula in advertising. Simply because advertising is a predicting profession. Agencies 'predict' sales will go up with their very own subjective solutions. To top it off, some clients demand to see 3 or more different concepts in each presentation. Even if there is a 100% sweet spot-hitting solution, they somewhat voluntarily reduce the chance of obtaining it to 33%. (Imagine patients demanding the doctor to offer 3 tablets for them to choose with 2 being placebo and 1 being the actual cure.)

So when there's no guaranteed method, there's no sure way to train junior creatives. Hence all advertising books are so inspiring and vague at the same time. (Trust your guts, have a backbone, be a sponge, rely on your instincts.)

Advertising's turnover rate is one of the highest of all professions. How can senior creatives offer advice when they can't be sure their job is secure? (Work hard, son. Some day you might get retrenched by 25 like I did. And I'm one of the best in the industry.)

The next point is something I seriously hold dear to my heart to be true: the industry is simply not disciplined enough to support and create a fixed teaching module. If creativity is fluid, it has to be contained by something rigid such as a system. Having creatives to train creatives is like trying to hold water with a cup made by water. (Again, with the high turnover rate, a president of any award or training body normally last for 12 months maximum. Imagine a school that changes principals every single year.)

Ironically, I think the solution to succeed as a junior is simply to hang on and wait. Eventually the old farts will retired or kick the bucket and management being clueless or desperate most of the time will simply promote the next contact in their filofax or rolodex. Again, it's simply a matter of being at the right place at the right time. (And in the case of Hollywood, being hot and well connected.)

I can probably say this right now because I'm half way out of the industry. But also simply because deep down, I love advertising. Having finished half of this book I'm reading, I realised creatives are no different than financial analysts. Anyone is entitled to criticize and have an opinion, because there isn't a right or wrong answer.

This is just another rant because I realised people are still getting retrenched, and there simply isn't any safety net for being experienced, brilliant, loyal, or hardworking. This is advertising.