Jul 8, 2011

The 5 Stages of working at an Ad Agency

Yesterday night while my insomnia was at full blast mode, I started wondering when I developed this obnoxious trait of not sleeping well. That left me with wondering about if it was my job, how bored I was of doing it... hence the post. It has been almost more than two decades doing the print, radio, tv, repeat cycle. I can remember when it was fun and how it developed into what I feel (and my friends as well) right now. So listen up, young padawans, I'm going to tell you your future. Ready, set... go.

1) Stage 1: Fear or the "Am I right for this job" attitude.

The first months, even year, you will be scared shitless. If you are not, you are bullshitting yourself. You are scared out of your mind, you didn't think it was going to be this way. It all goes so fast, you sometimes find yourself trying to catch up. You hate making rookie mistakes, but everyone is kind to tell you what you did wrong and how you can avoid doing it again. You trust everybody and all the people around you are nice. You start to think THESE are the friends you will have forever because ad people are just like you. You would not even think about banging someone in the office, how insulting to ask.

2) Stage 2: Normalcy or the "I'm in my zone" attitude.
A couple of years have gone by and you are not a junior anymore. You start to get annoyed when people ask you if you are, though. You're still making mistakes, but that's just because for some strange reason, you get all the shitty deadlines and you know that with a little more time in your agency you will get the cool campaigns. Your boss has shouted at you a couple of times now, but you are not so scared when it happens. You start to think that you are getting home way late, but who cares, you are all hanging out drinking afterwards. Life is good, the job is awesome. You start to notice the receptionist or cool designer but you know you should not shit where you eat.

3) Stage 3: Brilliance or the "I am the reason Cannes Lions exists" attitude.

This stage will be very brief, but you have absolutely no clue whatsoever about this. You are a god. You are more than a mere mortal, you create ads that save lives. Every thing you put your hands on is a masterpiece. You boast that your job is so cool, it's ok that you haven't seen your family or your friends because "hey, I was at a five day shoot at the beach, sorry". Your boss has nailed you to the wall hundreds of times because of whatever reason he wants to, but who cares, right? He's so fucking old and stupid, you cannot understand why he still goes to the office. You are dead sure that if he went golfing and just called in twice a week, you'd all be much more productive. Also, your creative director is a total dick and you would totally do a much better job than this poor sack of shit. You listen to people giving you advice and then ignore completely what they are saying because, for fuck's sake, what are they... forty year olds? Old people are to be dismissed. THEY are the problem - they should all be fired! Everybody knows that only young people know what's going on! Creative at fifty? Riiiiight. You already banged the assistant creative director and your receptionist is currently banging the CEO.

4) Stage 4: Acceptance or the "I honestly give a shit but hey, I got a job" attitude.
It's all so repetitive, right? You are starting to notice that the passion is sort of gone. You get moments of pride, where you are honestly glad that you did a great piece, but it comes and goes. You decided to stop leaving for work so late. You need to see your kids, for god's sake. You've felt sick enough to notice that the long hours are not good for you. Besides, shit will always get done late, no matter what you do. You tried the "let's get early to work theory" in order to see if you would be more productive but to no avail, people just will procrastinate until they want to, affecting your life in the process. You ignore your boss when he goes on those rants. You listen to your creative director for clues on what he wants done so you just deliver that exact same shit instead of wasting long hours trying to come up with a decent concept... Why? Because it will always end up revised to the point of stupidity. The list of people you have banged is a decent one depending on how much alcohol you consume in those great media parties that we all get invited to. Some poonanie you already are ashamed of hitting, but what the hell, everybody does it.

5) Stage 5: Abandonment or the "I do this just to pay the rent and until I decide to open up that restaurant" attitude.
As you enter the door at your agency, you find yourself feeling bored. It's not that you hate your work, but you just don't give a shit that much anymore. It's just an ad, you're not saving lives. You find yourself daydreaming about having a restaurant, an art gallery... or just being a masseuse for a living. Something else than this repetitive life. You are now very careful to the people you talk to, because you know how ugly and back stabbing it can be. Your daily aim is to get the shit approved and fast. Waste time on good creativity when it deserves to and when you get inspired, not every single minute. You talk to the few good friends you have about retiring at least once a month. You are happy, because you figured the good things in life do not require a prize or being accepted by your peers - it's about living life, traveling, having fun with your family. You laugh at people who devote themselves to the agency, because you know it will never acknowledge their hard work back. What you truly devote yourself is everything outside the doors and knowing this makes you a very fulfilled human being... waiting to leave and never come back. You stopped banging anybody - because you got married with someone from your agency, or a client.

It's a wild ride, padawans. Enjoy it, have a blast and don't forget to come home early when you can.

Much love, Me.


SaraT said...

Thanks for a great laugh! That is SO spot on -- and has been forever. What is WRONG with us ad people, anyway?

Raj Solanki said...

Thanks for the information provided here. It is really an interesting post to read. The topic is described wonderfully.
Ad Agency Indore

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Unknown said...

Wow! I'm 7 years in and I can say that this is EXACTLY what I went through. Now looking for a good reason / incentive to leave.

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