Jul 7, 2009

We all die at one point, right?

Just finished watching the Jacko's tribute and suddenly a question popped in my mind.

Quick Question alert!

Who would you love to sing at your funeral?

Which artist would make you go "Yeah, my death rocks"?

You have to give me a name and a song. Start typing...

My choice? I'll be seeing you sung by the greatest ever (and alive still) Tony Bennett.

No need for casket, people. Me wants to be cremated. Burn baby, burn.

Houston, we have a... Shit that's so Cool.

Jul 6, 2009

Define Success.

Really. Think about it and write it down. What do you define as success? What makes you Top of the Class? This is very interesting, since on Saturday I had the most interesting and frustrating call known to man.

Here I am minding my own business (pun intended), doing some light shopping and I get a call from someone I used to know. I write "used" because the body that carried the man I knew; the brain, muscles, heart, joints, etc... it's still there. His body has not changed. But the man inside? Gone. I am sad, really sad, but so be it. It was all because of this definition which I beg of you guys to tell me.

Maybe I need to redefine success so I can make sure I am not going crazy. So I'm going to write down my opinion on this word and you tell me if I'm dead wrong... or like I was told on Saturday, doing everything wrong. Let's begin, shall we?

Ok so success for me is this: I don't have millions of dollars. I am not rich, wealthy or any other definition of having dough. I have enough money to enjoy from time to time nice things. Like everybody else I save up and splurge only if I can. I have a small business which does advertising and other related things and I am not focusing on making it a huge advertising agency. In fact, I am doing this just to pay the bills and save up some more money until I can move to greener pastures and do something completely different.

Because I have my own shop, I only get to have short vacations. Although I would love to disappear to the Maldives for two weeks, I know I can't right now. But I get the pleasure of traveling a shitload of more times during the year on short bursts of 3 to 4 day weekends. My shop does not make thousands of dollars every month, but I don't mind since I have just what I need to enjoy life.

I get to escape my job from time to time to go to the movies with some great cats. I can run off to do my nails and come back without any boss telling me shit. My clients can call me anytime they want during the weekend and I won't mind at all. I am not looking for getting more clients or crushing people because I want to move forward, in fact, I am the one that usually tries to help out other friends either with freelance jobs or working on a project together so we can all make a buck or two.

The one thing that I know for sure is this: I am not looking to get recognized, win Clios, buy a yacht or a house in the Caribbean, I am not looking to be profiled in AdAge. I just want my business to do well, to make enough money so that I don't go hungry and from time to time I get to experience the world.

I don't need Filet Mignon. I don't want champagne wishes nor caviar dreams. I don't need a Porsche nor a five bedroom mansion. I just want to be happy, have a family (um, I am officially starting the baby hunt but that is another post, coming soon) and enjoy every minute that I have left on this planet.

This is success for me. So... Am I wrong? Am I nuts?

You know why I am asking? Because someone had the balls to tell me this weekend that I was running my business wrong and that I needed to change my views so that I could become a powerhouse. I needed to take "bigger" projects and refuse "small ones" because those are not worth time. In this economy, this human being told me to REFUSE deals and take only the ones which would make more money. Um...

I needed to sell my shop as an agency and not what it is and what I would like it to be. I need to change my future and instead of wanting a Kmart kiddie pool for my patio, I needed to "think big" and envision more. I need more people at my office. I need to sell an image. I need to portray success.

But... but... I am already successful! I have all that I need and more! Or am I just a dumb fuck with no ambition?

Oh and by the way... can you smell the sarcasm where you are reading this?

PS: A word of advice. Never tell someone how to run their life or their business. It's just not nice, you know?

We are assholes

If you think lawyers are dicks, take a look at your nearest Creative Director. And if he’s from Argentina, forget it! Not even he can stand himself. Because of a few bad apples over the past forty years, advertising professionals have earned quite the reputation: egomaniacal presumptuous pricks that think our shit don’t stink. And the sad part is that it’s actually true. We are a seriously stuck up, snobby bunch.

I guess it comes with the territory, a survival-of-the-fittest mechanism to make it in the cutthroat world that is advertising. For creatives it really does take an ego the size of Texas (cessation, anyone?) for us to believe the very shit we create. Sure, we justify the awesomeness of our work with qualifiers such as “strategic,” “integrated,” “single-minded,” “high-concept,” “gregarious,” “witty,” “engaging,” “360 approach,” and what not, but it all basically boils down to dressing a loaf of shit with a red ribbon.

Who are we kidding when we talk about groundbreaking concepts that “push the envelope?” Yeah, we come up with awesome work, but 9 times out of 10 we end up doing what the client asks for. However, we are so caught up in how cool and witty we are, how irreverent and off-the-wall we can be, that we often forget that the work we do really doesn’t make that big a difference.

Could it be that our egos are a way of covering up our frustration of not being “real” writers and artists?

Like we’ve said at WAS many times before, we’re not curing cancer, so let’s not act like a catchy headline or clever use of stock images will do the trick.

Egos are a necessary evil in this biz. From what I can see, it pays to be an advertising asshole. Thinking you’re hot shit is encouraged. Taking credit for even the lamest of victories is objective number one.

In this economy, let’s just be happy that we are being handsomely paid to do super fancy clerical work.

Jul 5, 2009

I feel like an Other

I relatively recently became Hooked on Lost and have finally reached Season 5, having seen the first episode. Though I could go on a huge tirade about my new found obsession and how Lost and a couple of other choice selections have inspired me to write during these quasi lackluster months. But no, this is a post about me and advertising and how I feel about the industry now.

Seven months into my exit from full time ad hell, I've learned so many things about myself that it's rather refreshing yet scary at the same time.

First off, I realize that like me, I do enjoy the type of work that comes along with the ad territory. What I hate is the bullshit that comes attached with it. The eternal conflict between execs and creatives, the butt ins of media, traffic and production people IN this battle and how some groups are organized enough to be considered another faction altogether. I hate the long hours and the sense that I've truly genuinely wasted my time for x amount of hours or days. I hated having to have dinner with co-workers rathen than non work related friends and family. I hated missing out on family events and truly becoming sick for the relentless pressure that the agency context fabricates. I hated how clients didn't trust a word the agency said because we're paying for the 80's and 90's dirty laundry and above all else, I hated the anger that flowed through me constantly.

Now I'm at a desk job, I have my own cubicle and it is the first time in my life I enjoy what I do most of the time and I feel as if what I'm doing makes a difference and actually matters int he grand scheme of corpo world. I know it's bullshit and that I'm merely a cog in the machine, but at least this machine is not designed to suck and store bullshit. I have a job that doesn't hang on an eternal wire and my job security is not determined by soured relationships with clients that swear they know better, or actually do. I get in early, I work ten hours plus but I don't feel completely exhausted. When there's stress and things are done rush, often times it's for a reason. You don't just hurry because some exec wants a biscuit and a pat on the head.

So why do I feel like an Other? Simple. I actually ran into an ex boss of mine not too long ago and I noticed that I had a spring to my step, knew where I was headed and was actually able to smile, almost seeming as if I had a trump up my sleeve no matter what. My boss on the other hand actually looked despondent, lost, frustrated, exhausted and curious as to the physically similar being that stood before him. He looked at me like an alien and that he should, because where there used to be a semi bright lad with a knack for occassionally hitting at least fools gold, who knew how to present but who was just a trigger away from stapling someone's asshole shut, he now saw a happy go lucky kind of guy.

I might have been a bit on the odious side mainly because I was kind enough to share just how happy I was with my new job, how satisfied I was with the challenge, the dynamics, and the work itself. But hey, at least I didn't rub in how much I was enjoying my freelance work. Though quite honestly, it was like running into an ex and letting them know just how good things are going for you. You hear them say oh wow "that's great", "good for you", etc, but their eyes kind of look at you and plead, "won't you please come back?". That's when they start hearing whispers, look all around and end up asking where I just vanished to, while I'm half way to my book club meeting, with my dear madame joker in tow.

Ah the beauty of the Other side.



Jul 4, 2009

There's no crying in Baseball.

I could not remember the last time I cried because of work. If I would have to guess, the year would be 1996. The reason for me crying was not even a typo, a bad situation at work... it was just that I felt sick and I wanted to leave but my stupid ass boss at that time made it difficult for me to leave. Yeah, the reason sucks.

That was the last memory of me crying over work. Until Thursday.

Let's go round by round.

Round 1) I am tired, it's 3 pm. I have to write a huge presentation for a client of mine. The good thing? It is a rewrite of an existing presentation. The bad thing? Since the client has made so many changes to the strategy, I have to write and write until the presentation makes sense again. This thing is very important and because other clients that insist on shitting my day I am way behind.

Round 2) I start writing. For no apparent reason, I am finding it hard to focus. I am taking too long writing simple frames.

Round 3) At 4pm I start focusing at last. I write and rewrite 14 frames.

Round 4) I clicked on a slide. Something happens. The program quits even without a notice from the OS X system. Hm. I look in my Desktop. The presentation has disappeared. Gone.

Round 5) I hit every Find search available on my computer. The presentation is gone. I start yelling and swearing so badly I even think my landlord hears me. I cry two or three tears of frustration.

Round 6) I start all over again. I opened up the last presentation and proceed to rewrite it all over again. It takes forever since I am very angry and pissed off. I save the damn thing every single minute. I even close, quit, open up the program again. The presentation is there, it's working.

Round 7) I am at the last frame. The Thank You frame. It's 7:30 p.m. I am so happy because I never thought I would finish it. In fact, in my frustration I have written a better presentation than the first draft.

Round 8) I click on the white typography to add a shadow. I need this copy to be seen perfectly.

Round 9) The program quits again. The presentation of 75 pages, finished completely, the one that needs to be printed 6 times and binded... has completely disappeared. Again.

Round 10) I start HOWLING and crying. I have never cried this hard. Sobbing. I am frustrated, angry, tired. I get - for some weird reason - a weird fever. I yell, I scream and scream. It's 8pm.

Round 11) After 20 minutes of utter depression I start all over again. I end up writing a decent but not brilliant rewrite because I don't have it in me anymore. I just don't give a shit. I want this day to be over and done with. I finish at 11:45 p.m. Eyes swollen, still fever running. I did not give a damn to proof it.

This story can be idiotic for some but it has a good side and a bad side. The bad side is: I actually gave a shit so much about work that it was personal and frustrating, not because I lost the damn thing (a word of advice, don't use warez because this is the reason all this happened in the first place) - but because I did a good job that I knew I could not repeat again. That kind of inspiration comes and goes quickly and I was frustrated to the point of tears because I knew it could not come back again in its full glory. Crying about it made me feel good, made me think that; no matter how much as I insist that I give a shit about advertising, I do care, I do like my job, I do want to do my best always.

The good thing? In a flash I gave a shit. Lost the damn presentation twice? Who the fuck cares. Let's make a shit ass excuse of a presentation and let's go home and sleep. The glory that I felt about the presentation being as good as fuck changed in an instant to total who gives a shit... A normal person would have gotten a two hour break, breathe, have a drink and started at 11pm. I didn't even give that idea a try. It turned from a project that I wanted to do good to just a project that I wanted to finish. Hm.

Anyway, the thing is that I felt something other than nothing. And the good thing about the whole day was... I had lost that feeling, caring, for years and years. Yes, it lasted a few minutes and I gave a shit again... But at least I felt something. Like Frankenstein said...

It's alive!!! ALIVE!!!!

Jul 2, 2009

Prison Blues

I’m currently watching The Office via Netflix and came across an episode that explained so much to me about the realities cubicle life. In the episode (Season Three, Episode 9, “The Convict”) a new group of employees joins the team and it turns out that one of the guys had done some time in prison for insider trading. Of course, everyone is curious.

When he describes his experiences in the clinker, they all realize that life in prison is better than life at the office:
- Prison cells are larger than cubicles… or “work stations”, if you prefer
- Prisons have mandatory outdoor time several times during the day
- You get fed in prison. In the office, you only get fed if you’re burning the midnight oil
- In prison they have lights out, ensuring that everyone gets a good night’s rest
- Prison cells have windows’
- You don’t have to toil away all week just to spend what little free time you have available during the weekend mowing the lawn, shopping for groceries, running misc., and fixing shit around the house.

I can’t remember the rest, but it was hilarious. When sharing his experiences with his coworkers, even the ex-con realized that prison life wasn’t too bad when compared to the “time he was doing” at the office.

Is it possible that our jobs are our very own ball-and-chain? Does this explain why we feel “free” when we are not at work? Food for thought.
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