PERSPECTIVE: Official - advertising can be sexy again in the new millennium

Herewith a hippy millennium-type column in which I detail foolishly how much Campaign loves you. Normal sceptical service will be resumed on 13 January (but don’t forget Campaign’s Hall of Fame, the Top 100 British Ads of the Century out this Monday, 20 December).

Herewith a hippy millennium-type column in which I detail foolishly

how much Campaign loves you. Normal sceptical service will be resumed on

13 January (but don’t forget Campaign’s Hall of Fame, the Top 100

British Ads of the Century out this Monday, 20 December).



’I don’t know how you can write about the advertising business, isn’t it

just full of w!*k@*s?’ is a question I often get, along with ’what on

earth is the Nationwide/First Direct/Dunlop/Honda/ Smirnoff (delete

where applicable) ad about?’, ’are bad ads made deliberately really bad

so that they will become cults?’ and ’I was watching telly last night,

and I saw two ads that featured sex in them, how do you account for this

new trend?’



Normally the ’w@*k**s’ question is followed by an ’is advertising really

just sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll?’ It’s posed in a ’God, I’d love to be

a w!@k** too’ tone - which is funny because many of those asking already

are. Does champagne, Nurofen (my favourite brand) and a karaoke duet

with Tammy Wynette count?



There are arseholes, bastards and worse in the ad industry, but does

anyone really believe there are not in the restaurant industry,

retailing, the civil service, management consultancy, teaching or

journalism? The vast majority of advertising people we encounter are

decent, hard-working, clever, talented, personable and fun. I’m not sure

there are too many businesses you could say that of.



However, a surprising number also manifest a curiously ambivalent

attitude to what they do. Gone, hopefully, are the days when most of our

leading creative directors were actually frustrated novelists or film

directors.



Those who survived the last recession were given plenty of opportunity

to abandon a sinking ship - if they stayed, they wanted to. But many

junior agency staff today find their jobs a slog, and are far removed

from the end product. Their kicks come from the environment in which,

and the people with whom, they work. It can’t be healthy.



And it will get worse. Technological and global business convergence

mean this process of removal from the actual doing will only

continue.



The risk is that hundreds of people in advertising and media buying will

become glorified clerks with scant opportunity to make a difference.

With alternatives ranging from the City to management consultancy and

dotcom ventures within a near full-employment labour market, attracting,

retaining and developing talent will become the ad industry’s greatest

challenge.



How do you make the job as sexy as the people and the environment?



It can be done. Particularly if we all stop banging on about the good

old days and embrace the new challenges of the digital era. People will

inevitably take stock of their lives over the forthcoming holiday. And

the new year will be a time for bold new ventures. Life is not a

rehearsal. Hippy Christmas.





stefano.hatfield@haynet.com



Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.



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