OPINION: If you want to work in ads don't join our club

Trevor Beattie, the chairman and executive creative director at TBWA\London, debunks advertising's sameness obsession.

There must have been a million movies made and screened since I wrote my first ad, back in the late 1820s. Trouble is, according to ad folklore, there were probably only about six. A zillion hit records have come and gone. But the same half dozen keep being dragged back.

And while fashion has dictated a spectrum of colours from chocolate brown to, erm, grey ... it's black and, more infuriatingly, the phrase "Is the new" which remains de rigeur in adland. Oh, and one in four commercials still starts with the words "Imagine", "At last" or "There is a ..." and ends in "Because ..." Please don't try this at home, kids.

The real world is turning faster than ever. Our world looks back over its shoulder. We too often find safety in sameness, afraid to reward the new until everyone's tried and tested it.

If you're reading this and you already work in the Land of Ad, look away now. If, however, you're reading this and burning with a passion to break into our business and shake its cliquey, lazy club to its foundations, lemme be your doorman.

If we're happy enough to bleat on about how great things used to be (usually at CDP), let's be big enough to own up to some of our many faults. The foibles and strictly limited influences which form the house rules of Club Ad. Enter at your peril. But promise me, once you bag your first job, not to do any of the following.

Movies. The first advertising bash I ever attended was populated by an army of gormless looking blokes in black suits, black ties, trilby hats and sunglasses. It was a Blues Brothers theme night, apparently. The do started at 7.30pm and from what I can gather, it's been going on ever since.

I bet you your very first pay cheque that within a year of joining advertising, you'll encounter at least one monochromatically attired, mono-idea'd, monosyllabic moron, convinced he's the reincarnation of a dead fat Hollywood junkie. Kids. Don't let it be you.

Reservoir Dogs. How many more times must we be subjected to the slow motion "Blokes in suits walking" sequence, before someone declares it boring? Allow me. It's boring.

Then there's Lock, Stock and Too Many Bleedin' Mockney Gangsta Parodies.

I saw that Vinnie Jones the other night. Staring out of a billboard at me in a mock threatening pose. And what was draped behind his ears in movie poster fashion this time? Bacardi bottles? Burton's underpants?

I can't remember. Neither can his agent. Let's move on, shall we? But please, not to the Coen Brothers. Late news just in. No-one outside of advertising has ever seen a Coen Brothers' movie. Neither do they wish to.

In short, and whatever the posh production company lady may tell you over lunch at Hakkasan, remember this: We make adverts, not films. (And why does the "director's cut" always have to be longer?)

Music. Club rule: Moby or Motown. Somehow doesn't have the same charm as Daddy or chips, does it? The reality: Your choice from the back catalogue of mankind's musical endeavours since the dawn of recorded history, money permitting. Zoom zoom.

Television. Club says: Whatever currently makes the youngest members of the creative department laugh. Hence the worldwide outbreak of Jackass-style crazed, self-inflicted physical injuries, regardless of what you're selling or who your audience is.

You see, when it comes to The Club, there's the rub. We've become our own target audience. Even when we don't consume the product, we only seem to rate stuff which "we" like. Ads which reference our extremely narrow set of influences. And that's a shame. Influences should be unlimited.

The people who in future break into our business and manage to expand our influences, take us out of our comfort zone and stop us using hideous phrases such as "comfort zone" will rule our world. And hopefully disband The Club forever.

And, as someone once wisely said: "It could be you." I do hope so. But in the meantime, should you find yourself invited to a Blues Brothers bash any time soon, please accept. And promise me you'll take a loaded gun along and kill the bloody lot of them. It's for the best.

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