Feb 23, 2008

Creatives can actually break

I ........am .........tired...

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, but seriously, I haven't had time to even think straight and though I could go on a warpath with much of the anger that has been inspired in the past two weeks, I'm too tired to do that and I think it'll be interesting to tone things down a little, drive at 35 miles per hour and just speak my mind without necessarily having a juicy insult to share. Instead I've decided to showcase what hard work, dedication and pushing forth the extra mile can sometimes give you in advertising.

For the past two weeks I've been leaving work late. This isn't the first time I've had a lot of work, but in regards to time span vs. amount of day-to-day work + new business + 2008 campaigns + small campaigns, it ranks high up in periods of time with the most amount of work. In a brief sum up I'm pretty sure I've worked past the 110 work hour mark and that's because I'm taking off lunch hours even if I did eat lunch at the agency like 6 times, so in all honesty I probably go past the 120 hour mark. I'm sure there's someone who has had to work more than that and might even call me a wuss for stating such a weak hour load much like grandparents besmirch you because when they were your age they would walk 30 miles in -10 weather to buy fire wood and chocolate and drink water from melted snow because they really had it tough. Trust me, I know I have it good in comparison to a very large chunk of the world, but that doesn't take away from the fact that I'm tired, I'm feeling ill, and I'm at breaking point. Also to be noted, working late has given me the luxury of eating more takeout that is accepted by the FDA. Chinese, pizza, mexican, burgers, burgers, fried chicken, sandwiches, soups, etc though I haven't been eating much by the end of this little period that could have gone on but luckily we weren't asked to work this weekend. To say that my body would probably be shut down by the government for being a health hazard is pretty accurate as to how I'm feeling.

The thing is, when you get to a point where you've been breathing the same still air for a couple of days on end, you work in a constant state of stress, you don't like what you're doing, nothing seems to come out half as good as it should and you switch from account to account to account to account, you start showing signs of wear and tear. I'm sure my co-workers aren't feeling too hot either and though some people think they're trendy, bags under the eyes don't feel all too great, especially when it's your friends who are wearing them.

To sum things up in regards to my health, here goes: my blood pressure is up, my stomach is not cooperating, I've done the hurl abdominal exercise routine for the past four days and out of my last 6 meals, four have been soup because I can't stomach much more than that. I also have the new gimmick of having a nervous tick on my left cheek, charming. My body feels exhausted in the vein of dehydration, where you shake from time to time without being able to control it. My eyes are bloodshot and though blogging from home doesn't help matters much, this is therapeutic so I endure the computer glare. As an added bonus, my lower back is sore, my eyes feel like they're going to pop and speaking of popping I might have cracked a molar from tension, anger and frustration expressed via lockjaw. How I haven't gotten a cold is beyond me and maybe the tea with honey I drink on a daily basis is to be thanked apart from the support from my mother, my dear Jokerette and my fellow WASers. Oh and I'm getting headaches again, joy.

And then comes the kicker.... every day you ask yourself if it's worth it and you come up with the answer even before your inner voice finishes the question.

Of course not.

It doesn't feel as if we're all working for the same mission and it sure as hell doesn't feel as if there's any type of synergy within my agency lately except within my team where we have had our back every step of the way and if anything positive has come forth from these two weeks, it's that I feel pride in the people I work with even more than I normally do.

But during this non stop debacle, the attitude from some people in regards to meeting schedules and presentations has been to not even try to buy any bit of time and trust me, not saying this because I'm in the team, but in all honesty we haven't slacked one bit in the last month. We've heard the loud crack of the whip and our blistered backs feel more akin to "Amistad" than an agency. As if that weren't enough, some people in question haven't even given thanks and right after the meeting they simply round everyone up to chastise and reprimand because they didn't perform as he'd visualized and when expectations were met and exceeded not even a mumbled thanks came way to the peons. I don't mean to sound like a whiny bitch but man, does it take that much of an effort to try to motivate people who have been overworked to the point of feeling ill? Apparently so.

It just doesn't seem to matter if people have feelings, or families, or a body that can all be under extreme duress. We are the mere robots that are supposed to process and package the bullshit that needs no skill to be sold. We need to water down a concept so the client will approve and quick because if not, we don't make any money, and if we don't make any more money, well someone else will have to be let go so people in question can keep their high end cars, keep having plastic surgery and keep handing over peanuts to the idiots that willingly put up with it.

I'm not saying my case is the only alternative for ad people or for students considering a career in advertising. I'm just saying that sometimes, what I'm writing about happens. You will sometimes not matter and your family, your health and your life are a liability much more than what make up who you are. Marriage getting shaky from lack of attention? Tell your wife or husband to shut their trap, we need to make ads so the boss can have money. Feeling ill? What gives? You're being fed on his dollar and you'd better like that $5 dollar meal. And you'd better not throw it up, that's hard money you're wasting by getting sick. Eat it. Now back to work, you can digest while you do a new copy, a new layout and brainstorm three campaigns.

I'm not making this up, this is the attitude you might face. So if you're thinking about a career in advertising, here's your warning, it's not as glamorous as they make it out to be and the sacrifices you make will forever haunt you when looking back to see what you've done with your life.

"Well there was that birthday I couldn't make it to because of work. Then those forty movies I missed because I was working. oh and that cardiac condition, it's totally my fault because I couldn't cut it. And... and.... and.......... and nothing."

Land in the wrong place and that could be your reality. No fun, no play, no life, just work. As for me, I've told the people I love that this is a year of change, lets see if I can make good on that prediction.

As for you, be well, be safe, be healthy, be happy and never settle.



Make the logo bigger said...

“...it sure as hell doesn't feel as if there's any type of synergy within my agency lately...the attitude from some people in regards to meeting schedules and presentations has been to not even try to buy any bit of time...”

It’s a creative’s job to come up with cool stuff—and everyone else’s to bug them about it.


TexanInHippieland said...


My comment is really in response to this post and the previous one, since they are, in fact, completely connected.

I want you to know that I COMPLETELY understand how you feel. It's a frustration that goes from being psychological to being physical. When at first you're merely stunned by (insert name/title here)'s complete idiocy and selfishness, it gets to the point where you want to scream, but you don't have the energy.

I have been there and twice in my career I reached the breaking point. Twice, I have become a verb at former agencies. (As in - people there who reach a breaking point will say "wow, I think I'm about to pull a 'Ben'!"

What did I say? What did I do? Well, I'm afraid I was not eloquent as you probably would be. Rather, I (foolishly) went to the Executive Creative Director and said "FUCK THIS! THIS IS FUCKING BULLSHIT. I HATE THAT FUCKING BITCH. I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU HAVEN'T FIRED HER. I QUIT. NO NOTICE. GOODBYE. I'M FUCKING LEAVING NOW!!!

Then, three years later, at another agency, owned by the same parent company, I did something very similar.

My suggestion? Before you get to that point, go tell them you need a week off. Make up whatever reason you need to. Just step away from it NOW. Take the first two days and sleep and watch DVDs. Don't answer the phone (unless it's ME or Mrs Joker). Go get a massage. Smoke a joint. Take Mrs Joker to a hotel for a night. Go enjoy and expensive dinner. Smoke another joint.

Then, a week later, go back to work and realize that you are a much better person than your CEO. He will die alone and unhappy.

We have never met, but I mean all this from the bottom of my heart.

The advertising business is an evil soul-killing industry that is designed to destroy people, not build them up. You MUST take some time off and heal yourself.

Texan In Hippieland

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Joker, I can't possibly say it better than Texan. There are 345,678 jobs in advertising. There is only 1 Joker. Please do your best to keep him around. You have to advocate for your own health, mental and otherwise. Putz could care less. Tell him you need a goddam MONTH off. Get out of town, if you can. Sublet your apt. Go someplace with Mme. Joker and keep us posted from there. You can put on your cv "market research in Bali." As someone who once left a good job to spend 6 backpacking mos. in Asia, I can assure you the business will always be here. And as soon as you're back, it's (sadly) as if you never left. Except yourre WAY more able to deal with putzes.

Me said...

Tex. Broad.


I have been telling him this for over a month and a half!!!!!

Can we go on strike? I can't eat anything but white rice unless he goes on vacation. Can someone suggest no sex? No alcohol?

Hm. Interesting.

We love you dude, so please, for your health, take a break...

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

There's never a good/convenient time to take a break, Joker. I think it's like maternity leave. You have to pick a date and just go.

joker said...


Words of wisdom as always my friend. It's funny how you can sum up advertising often times with the phrase: "Why make it easy, when you can make things hard?"


Totally agree that both posts are connected but one is actually over extending myself in regards to at least focalizing my anger and frustration though as you so keenly noticed, it's not just there. As for your description, there have been moments just like that and much to my delight, many more that are other expressions of disdain for what I've had to be doing or who I've had to be working for. Trust me, I also have a temper and every day I'm trying to not do a “Joker”, but hey, it might just be our nature to take things way too personally. As for the time off, Mrs. Joker and Me have told me quite a few times and to oneup that bit of truth, they've expressed high amounts of worry regarding moi, which makes it doubly worse. Trust me, I'm trying to step away from it now, but I don't have the chance to just up and quit without some other source of income, but the variety of options I'm considering, the people I've spoken to and the tweaks to my book I've done in the last 2 weeks should speak for themselves and I'm pretty much through giving the 110% and will only do what is required because in the end, I'll get the same biscuit as all the other dogs. I appreciate your words more than I could express so I don't go more smurfy and mushy than is the case with the post, but suffice to say, though I don't take insults lightly, compliments and heartfelt words are just as meaningful in my life and like the bad, I take the good to heart. So thanks and trust me, I'll be doing my damndest to get the hell out of this place. As for the weed, never toked but have thought about it a couple of times. For now I'll do my best with Beer and Wine, there's actually a post on that coming along :D


I know businesses don’t change and if they did, it would dos so tectonically, centimeters a year. Trust me, if I had the opportunity to just up and get the hell out of this rathole, I would. I'd go romp and play like Tom Cruise says he can't but for now, I have to abide by rules and conditions that neglect me the opportunity of giving it all a wonderful doese of fuckitall. As for the vacation, at this moment I'm considering it but some factors hold me at bay, especially that one about me just wanting to resign and not give them the chance to share anymore of their succulent misery with me when I’d get back.


You know my reasons for not taking the break. The specific reasons though you also know I'm getting to the point of just going on a self-imposed hiatus because I should drink of the medicine I so often offer. I promise I'll be absent soon. When? Not sure, but is Tuesday a good / soon enough start.

Adbroad part Deux :) :

Now how did you know I might have withheld that question. The answer should be a no brainer but one gets this idiotic sense of responsibility and I just need to drill it in my head that it's not worth it. Wait a minute, I did, I just want to cash the vacation days I have accumulated and leave the place.

To Everyone:

Umm... I often say that this blog is part of my ongoing self prescribed therapy because I get to write out all the demons that plague my insides.... Don't for one moment think that reading your blogs and your comments isn't part of my regimen. Though it might sound exaggerated, you guys help me keep my shit together and my anger channeled for creative intentions.

Cheers my friends, I promise if I get rich to make a WAS party and fly everyone in. And if I don’t get rich, well we can always call the shots for some random state with an all you can eat buffet with bottomless beer.

My best to you all

Me said...

Well, come Tuesday you know where I'll be, ha ha. If I don't die on the operating table, you and your lovely chick are welcome to watch me drool until the anesthesia wears down.

We all love you and want you to get well.

TexanInHippieland said...


Don't know the specifics, nor do I have to. But I wish you the best. Whatever it is, get good drugs.

Thinking In Vain said...

I'm not very articulate - but I read everything, and I'm just going to second Ben and everyone else.

I try to think that every thing happens for a reason, no matter how shitty, and it'll keep happening until we've learned the lesson we're supposed to. Maybe yours is to take a break, I don't know. But I hope you get a VERY LONG VACATION someplace nice with the people you love.

RestrictionsApply said...

Joker, you shouldn't take your situation too lightly.

I too am concerned about what's going on. The reality of the situation is that you think that everyting that's happening at the office will be "just this once", but it's not like that. It's all the time. And it doesn't happen at just "this one agency". As you can see from people's comments, it happens at ALL agencies.

I'll be blunt: You're driving yourself into a rut you won't be able to get out of. The question isn't "Is it Worth it?" The question is "WHY?"

Why are you doing this, besides to receive a check and pay the bills. Are you being fulfilled in any way? Is there any satsifaction to what you do? What are YOU getting out of it?

I am concerned because I've met so many people in your predicament who've spent the last 30 years suffering from what you're suffering.

As you can plainly see, you're only hurting yourself, and it won't get any better.

Good Luck

chubirka said...

wow! you just confirmed for me why I left advertising...

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