Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Confessions of a mediocre ex-creative.

For the last week I've caught up with three friends in advertising who simultaneously declared that I'm out of the industry. One even introduced me as the one who 'escaped, like, in Shawshank Redemption'.

I'm not sure they said that out of pity, or simply relief that I no longer pollute the industry, I definitely did not climb through a tunnel of shit like Tim Robbins.

But it got me thinking, now that I've been banished, perhaps I can talk a lot more freely about my past experiences. And who knows, that may prevent you from making the same mistakes like I did.

Here goes.

One of the most common and consistent peer feedback / review I received was that I did not exert enough enthusiasm. (It probably didn't help that whenever I received said feedback I always roll my eyes.) I do not deny that. My explanation is that I'm Asian and I have a genetic feature evolved from generations of oppression. Granted I'm not a hostile person, but I'm the sort that gets pissed off when 12 steps were taken to finish a job when only 4 were required, which happened almost constantly.

This one time, a suit felt discouraged that the creatives (in that instance, I) never complimented their effort on delivering briefs.

This is something I do not miss in an agency. The finger pointing. The justification. The sensitive souls. I couldn't do my job because the creatives weren't encouraging enough. Really?

I honestly don't remember. Maybe I wasn't enthusiastic because I was busy getting the job started, or I just wanted to get back to the job I was interrupted 10 minutes ago. But the fact that the comment travelled all the way to the managing partner, typed out in a piece of paper and came up in my review, really surprised me.

This is the equivalent of me mounting 10 presentation boards for a pitch, demanded the planner to come and admire how they're all symmetrically pleasing to the eyes, failed, and then lodging an official complaint to HR.

Again, cut to me rolling my eyes in the principal's office with the giant pop art painting. Or pinball machine. Or giant moose head that isn't a real moose. Definitely one of those.

Cut to all of us being lectured to be supportive and be nice to suits. Do not eat breakfast on the table after 10am because that upsets them. Do not belittle their hard work even if it's full of spelling mistakes and information from the client's website.

So lesson 1.

Beware of cry babies. They're easy to spot. They make a lot of noise (I heard rumours that suits in Ogilvy Sydney get pay raises by crying in the conference room, or threatening to quit in a middle of a pitch). The Chinese has a proverb to describe them: Loud thunder; soft drizzle.

Make friends with them. Handle them with care.
Send them chocolates even if they scheduled meetings at 5pm.

End of lesson 1.