When addicts stop using drugs and alcohol they are commonly beset by drinking and drugging dreams. Usually occurring within the first year of abstinence these dreams can be strikingly vivid. The addict often wakes up highly agitated, believing completely he or she has fallen off the wagon. Even upon realizing it’s only a dream, the phenomenon can be highly disturbing. Addicts and alcoholics feel as though they have betrayed their sobriety, almost like a relapse.
Not to connect the dots but…
Having left Adland 5 months ago, I had my first (recollected) advertising dream the other night. I was younger (a man can dream!) and working on a luxury car account. The crux of the dream had me pitching concepts to one of my first bosses and mentors, Ted Bell. (Ted is now retired from advertising and a best-selling author of thrillers like Warlord and Assassin.)
If he was my boss that means the place was likely Leo Burnett and the account Oldsmobile… even if the car in my dream was a snazzy convertible, unlike anything Olds used to make.
Regardless, I remember trying to make wordplay about drivers having an “open mind” for the open top vehicle. I can’t recall the exact copy but either way Ted wasn’t buying it. “People don’t need an open mind to want one of these cars,” he kept repeating. Why I kept fighting him on the point I don’t know; but I was. Needless to say, the boss is always right. Even in your dreams. Upon waking, I realized my idea was silly and sophomoric. Very “spec book.”
Yet, what disturbed me most about the dream wasn’t the mediocre concept but rather my dogged determination to prevail. I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I kept trying to make a case for my silly open minds concept.
Sound familiar? Who among us doesn’t remember pushing way too hard our first concepts? The relentless young creative is so commonplace it’s basically a cliché. In a recent AdAge interview, famed adman and now teacher, Luke Sullivan stated his biggest regret was “having an insane amount of certainty” as a young copywriter.
And there I was trying to force my boss to have an open mind!
May 14, 2008
Do you ever have dreams about advertising? Of course not. That would be lame. But given the pervasive nature of advertising I wonder why, sometimes, we don’t.
Like a lot of boys I dreamed I could fly. In these dreams I was Superman or, to be honest, a hybrid mutant more akin to the X-men. Usually I used my power to avoid or thwart a real-life nemesis of mine, some schoolyard bully. As I got older movies became dominant influences in my dreams. Zombies chasing me, their putrid arms just out of reach. Vampires. And, better still, Vampire women! God bless Hammer studios.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is about advertising in dreams. Or, more to the point, why isn’t advertising in our dreams? For example, How come Tony the Tiger never turns up in Z-land? Or, God forbid, Bill Shatner? I’m surprised Burger King hasn’t infiltrated my psyche. A horrific and comedic entity, the King is Felliniesque if ever there was such a thing. Perfect fodder for dreams.
Given how much these characters and images bombard us, you’d think they’d have found their way into our subconscious. “We interrupt this dream to bring you the following paid announcement…”
Considering I make ads for a living it seems odd I don’t recall having had a single dream about any aspect of the creative process: writing ads, selling ads, producing ads, or the ads themselves. Never ever.
Maybe the commercialization of our society is so overt and rampant that our sleeping minds crave alternatives.
According to Freud, dreams are an outlet for something we repress during our waking life. It is common for the recovering alcoholic to have “drinking dreams.” Teen-agers have wet dreams because they aren’t “getting any” in real life. And so on.
In a reversed out, bizarre-o way, maybe commercials and the like are dreams manufactured for awake-time. “We make you want what you don’t need,” reads this blog’s masthead. Advertisers are able to create desire by creating 30-second dreams.
Of course I’m kidding. Sex in the ice cubes was only a myth. Yet, I have been dreaming about that new Audi…
(Props to TF for inspiring this post)