I left the field of advertising (I was a copywriter) when I determined that wracking my brain to come up with catchy names for lard and tampons was one of the most ridiculous things a grown-up person can do for a living.
Here’s a small vignette, by way of demonstration:
HE: How was work today, dear? What did you do?
SHE: Oh, I spent two hours of my finite existence naming toilet bowl cleaner. How does “Flushy Brushy” grab you?
HE: I don’t really understand it. I think it needs revision. (“HE” peels off his human facemask revealing . . . gasp . . . the client!)
HE: Yes! Yes, it’s me! And I’ll keep on throwing this copy back in your teeth until I get what I want! I don’t know what I want, but this isn’t it! “Flushy Brushy” is way too cerebral! The average consumer will never understand it.
SHE: What about “Potty Clean”?
HE: Where do you get your ideas, anyway? The city dump? That stinks! (HE pauses) Hey! I’ve got it! “Stink-Away”! Whaddya think?
SHE: Yeah, boy. That sure has class-A mass-market appeal.
The product is released and consumers go wild, snatching up every tin of Stink-Away they can find. Then they all run, en masse, to sprinkle it all over their local advertising agency.
That’s pretty much the way things go. The real payoff was that I was continually subjected to copy direction from a man who thought “comma” was spelled “coma.” (a state into which he would have fallen, had idle wishing proved productive).
The funniest thing that ever occurred during my tenure was the company picnic, attended by two dozen advertising executives standing around, trying to figure out how to have a good time at a function that they couldn’t bill to the clients.
Should any of you still be considering a career in the field of advertising, even after reading this far, I shall now include the first six lessons from The Ad Man’s Primer (which I just made up).
LESSON #1 – The Ad Man
See the Ad Man
See him thinking.
Think, Ad Man, think,
See him get nervous.
He chews his nails.
He tears his hair.
He gulps Maalox.
And it’s only 8:00 in the morning!
LESSON #2 – New Employees
See the New Employee.
See her smiling face.
She is happy.
This will not last.
She does not chew her nails.
She does not tear her hair.
She does not gulp Maalox.
The other employees are not sure
Whether she is dead
Or on drugs.
LESSON #3 – The Art Director
See the Art Director
He flits from here to there.
He worries about color
And amount of copy.
He talks funny.
He adores antiques.
He wears tight silk pants.
He works part time
For the Tooth Fairy.
LESSON #4 – The Account Executive
See the man panic.
Panic, man, panic.
This is the Account Executive.
He is called “A.E.” for short
Though others have four-letter names for him, too.
He browbeats The Copywriter.
He makes The Art Director cry.
He “suggests” changes
While he holds a stick
With a nail in it.
He “points things out.”
He “asks for clarification.”
He never comes right out
And says, “Change this!”
He doesn’t want to stifle
LESSON #5 – The Client and The Agency
The Client is who
The Agency depends on to survive.
The Agency is the parasite.
The Client is the host.
The Agency does everything
To please The Client
No matter what!
Want to be the smartest person in the world?
Become The Client.
The Agency will treat you just like Einstein,
Even if you can’t add, write, or tie your shoes.
Think of all the money you’ll save.
Now you don’t have to go to college
Or even finish high school!
LESSON #6 --THE CLIENT
See The Client.
Demand, Client, demand!
He is unreasonable.
He makes Donald Trump
Look like Tinkerbelle.
He will draw all over original artwork.
The Art Director will hang himself in the Ladies Room.
He will rewrite award-winning copy.
The Copywriter will be taken away in restraints.
He will tell The Account Executive how to do his job.
The Account Executive will toss him out the nearest open window.
The Client learns a hard lesson as he hurtles toward the ground.
You don’t screw with salesmen on commission.