Yesterday I spent some time talking about advertising. It made me think a lot about the industry. And the people who are attracted to it. As I said, it’s very stressful, and not just occasionally. It’s pretty much the norm.
The hours are long. There’s no such thing as overtime pay. Budgets are tight, and getting tighter all the time. There’s never enough people. There’s never enough time. The pressure is always on. The days of 2-or-3-hour, 4-martini lunches are long, long gone. Never to return. If they ever really existed at all.
So what’s the draw?
Why do we want to work in the business, to begin with? Why do we knowingly walk right into the fire? Eyes wide open. What keeps us there?
Are we masochists? Martyrs? Gluttons for punishment? Into pain? Stress junkies. Out of our minds?
What’s with us, anyway? What’s the common thread? Do we all have a gene no one else has? Or are we missing one, most other people do have? Is it a personality trait? A flaw? A particular characteristic?
Damned if I know.
I do know if you took a poll and asked most people in the industry if there was anything else they’d rather be doing, the answer would be “No”. Pretty much universally. No matter how many times we’ve been beaten up.
For me, it’s the opportunity to constantly wrestle difficult challenges to the ground. To challenge myself every day. To find new, better, more innovative ways to solve problems. To be resourceful.
It’s the variety. Today we could be selling credit cards. Tomorrow hotel rooms. The day after that, cars. The following week, cereal. And then newspapers. And computers.
And each time, with each assignment, with each client, we have to learn about a new industry. Or a different product or service. We have to immerse ourselves in it. And in just a matter of days, we have to know it well enough, understand it well enough, to be persuasive. To persuade consumers they can, and should, believe what we say in our ads. It all has to ring true. It all has to be true.
For me, it’s the opportunity to learn something new each and every day. To work with really bright people. To be part of a team, a ‘collective’ where everyone brings a different skill, a different talent, a different perspective. Different knowledge. Different experience and experiences.
To work in an environment where everyone contributes. Where everyone’s contribution counts. Where everyone owns a piece.
Where every day is different. Where you’re creating a website one day and a TV commercial the next. And a contest. And a loyalty program. An outdoor campaign. And a series of emails.
To survive, let alone succeed, you need an open mind. A collaborative nature. Thick skin. Resilience. A stubborn streak. Ideas. A sense of humour. A high threshold for pain. And stress. You must be a team player. You need high energy. A good immune system. Strength of character. A love of brands. An interest in human nature. Curiosity. Empathy.
Sometimes you can be silly. Sometimes you have to be serious. But you must always want to have fun.
Mystery solved, I think.