Melodrama & schadendfreude: Reflecting on Adland from 40,000 feet.

August 4, 2011


What’s it all about, Alfie?

Having been away from advertising for several months, now seems like a good time for reflection, about the business and about what it looks like to me from forty thousand feet…

Sans job, I’ve religiously kept up with Adland’s machinations. While some of what I write about is critical most of it isn’t. To this day, I’ve mostly adored every year of 20-plus spent in service to capitalism’s bitch Advertising. And I am unabashed about it. Coming up with ideas, fleshing them out and selling them in is a job I feel blessed to have done. And it’s one I fully intend to keep doing, pending of course, a willing suitor.

So many smart people, characters, and crazy sons of bitches populate Adland it can feel like a Moveable Feast, albeit sometimes a tainted one. Especially when you’re in it, as I was, and as so many of you still are. But trying to keep up with technology. Trying to keep up with the Consumer. Trying to keep accounts. Trying to keep your fucking job…it’s trying.

But you know what? Six months away and it also seems, well, kind of small. A feast? More like a TV dinner. From six months out, I’m afraid the drama of Adland plays like a tinny old rerun of I Love Lucy.

A perfect example of what I mean by “small” can be found in this frothy review of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s recent speech to the Chicago Advertising Federation. I’m not sure what’s more disappointing: the coverage or the event. Were “jaws dropping” in “disbelief and dismay” at Rahm’s “mostly unsuccessful attempt” at rallying Chicago’s “rather beleaguered ad industry?” A better question: Why turn a random business luncheon into Heaven’s Gate? News flash: the new Mayor of Chicago does have better things to do than spend the afternoon with a bunch of advertising executives…no matter how “gussied up” they were.

It’s this melodramatic idea of dashed expectations that belittles our industry. Between the overblown hype bestowed upon mere adverts and the ungodly amount of fear, cynicism and schadenfreude permeating the corridors of Adland it’s a wonder any work gets done at all.

Over the years I’ve lived in the problem, added to it, been small. I’ve had my share of ridiculous expectations and insidious resentments. My blog is called Gods of Advertising but I’m no angel. So here’s my vow. If and when I come back to Adland I promise to do my job as best I can and to be thankful for it on a daily basis.

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