Writing a column about advertising on a site read by people in advertising is treacherous business. There are just too many hypercritical readers in the audience, too many egos to infuriate. No matter what you write, there’s no right – only wrong. It’s kind of like when your girlfriend asks you if a particular dress makes her look fat. If you say no like you know you should, you’ll be accused of ‘just saying that’. If you’re brave enough to actually say yes when it does, chances are you’ll need a locksmith to get into your own house the next day. Either way, you just can’t win.
Part of the reason the advertising community is such a tough crowd to please, is that when it comes to judging someone else’s work, the go-to response of most advertising professionals – particularly creatives – is ‘I don’t like it’. This is known as the not-invented-here syndrome. It basically dictates you must slag off anything you didn’t think of yourself. And if an idea happens to be too good to bash, just say it’s a shame they dropped the ball in the execution or vice versa. Following this logic, anything you write as a copywriter-columnist that is intended to be funny, clever or perceptive is inevitably greeted by a cynical wave of critique. This post too, probably.
Things become even trickier when you’re a freelancer. Because the audience of a column like this one isn’t just made up out of your peers; it’s filled with potential clients as well. And as a general rule of thumb, agencies and brands are less inclined to hire you after you’ve candidly told them you think their latest creative baby is as ugly as a smashed crab. So this rules out being honest when it comes to publicly commenting on campaigns and brands you’d like to work for in the future. So to stay on the safe side, I’m not going to comment on any recent campaigns this week.
Agencies are less inclined to hire you after you’ve candidly told them you think their latest creative baby is as ugly as a smashed crab
I am going to say something about the Chaudfontaine campaign. It’s been out there for a while already, but any brand manager that believes singing lobsters, squids and beavers are going to make people run to the store to buy their product, deserves to be trashed until the end of days. It’s easily the worst campaign of our time and if this column blows my chances of working on the next installment in this preposterous series, then so be it.