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I was talking to Mary Wear the other day. Mary is an interesting person. She has pretty much set her life up exactly as she wants. Rather than just go along with what crops up.

She went to university and got a degree in English. Then she got a job in account handling. But she didn't like it much.

The creative department seemed to be having much more fun. She wanted to do that. So she quit her job in account handling. And she went back to college. And she became a copywriter. She worked with Damon Collins, and they won a lot of awards together.

Now Mary works at AMV. A really good job, at a really good agency. But she also wanted a life outside advertising. In the country, with her young family and her sheep. So she set it up so that she works a three-day week at AMV. And she still wins awards.

Now the reason Mary was able to do all this is that she's very straight. She's outspoken in the truest sense: she speaks out. She doesn't beat around the bush.

She doesn't try to guess what other people are thinking.

If she wants something a certain way she'll say so. And if she can't have it, she'll want to know the reason why.

Account men always found this very difficult. They couldn't give her a woolly brief. They couldn't cover up a lack of thinking with long words.

Put simply, Mary is "no nonsense".

I asked her why she chose to do advertising in the first place. She said: "Well, it's all around us, isn't it? There's tons of it everywhere. It's a fact of life, like architecture. I just thought why can't it be better?"

I loved that. No justification, no moral quandary, no need to justify advertising's purpose. Just acceptance.

Instead of arguing whether advertising should or shouldn't exist. Instead of arguing whether advertising is good or bad. Instead of arguing whether advertising is dead or not. Instead of treating it like a great moral debate. Why can't we just accept that it's there, and let's do it better?

Just like architecture. There's lots of it, it's everywhere, and it costs a fortune. The buildings are going up anyway. Why do they have to be ugly?

We don't keep arguing about whether or not we need architecture.

As Mary said, advertising is like that. It exists, it's a fact of life. Why can't we just do it better?

Dave Trott,


Advertising is a good history teacher. One of the lessons our teachers and history professors always try to impress on us - usually fruitlessly - is that it is very tricky to judge the past by applying contemporary standards. Advertising teaches this wonderfully. A few days ago, one of my readers (CaliforniaGirl) sent a link to a post she had written. The post was about past ads that we now find alarming and insulting.

The post got me thinking. Politics and values change so fast, ads that were acceptable just a few decades ago would now cause instant outrage. And yet, at the time they probably seemed reasonable.

Our advertising is a very reliable mirror of contemporary culture. And like every generation before us, we think of ourselves as terribly civilised and enlightened.

I wonder which ads (and which values) we accept as reasonable today will be viewed as archaic and disgusting 50 years from now.

Surely we are not immune to the evolution of culture and the idiosyncrasies of history.


Last week we asked what the essentials are for a long-lasting Client + Agency. Thank you for all your comments. What must they be? Here's SFrog's list: Honesty. Whatever happens, client and agency need to tell each other the truth. Trust and mutual forgiving of mistakes, which are unavoidable on both sides. Absence of fear. Nobody can produce great work under a Damocles sword. Acknowledgement of jobs well done. Mutual agreement that carrots produce largely better and more work than whips. Openness from wherever ideas come from. They often come from the client. Close involvement at the top of client and agency. The big picture must constantly be clear to everybody. Nobody is permitted to waver in the belief of the essential values of the brand. A sense of humour, which allows both sides to have as much fun as possible, in the interest of outstanding commitment and work. Maybe this helps a bit, what do you think?