Jun 7, 2009

"You're only as good as your last work"

Funny how this is supposed to be true, yet how many Creatives do you know who latch on to some five year old award from their glory days that time they worked on an account and were fortunate enough to have all the conditions come together to produce award winning work? For my part, I know quite a few people who are stuck in the moment so to speak and base their egos on accolades they received half a decade ago. Then I see creatives that are constantly hungry to prove themselves, to do something new and groundbreaking and push the envelope while doing new and different ideas.

So how much truth is there to the ad more that titles this post? Well, if you ask me, it's pretty true because though a great ad you did a couple of years ago shows you should have talent, questions begin to arise of why you haven't been able to give another golden goose. Did you pop your load? Did you get lucky? Was it the CD who gave the idea and you took the credit? Was it your ad partner? Did you rip off an Archive? All these and more questions come out if you haven't recently shown you have the goods to be a top notch creative.

So what if you never got the chance to do good ad work? Well I worked some pretty shitty accounts and though not award winning, I did earn props with my team for pretty much managing hail mary ads with difficult clients that are known to not be responsive to creativity. From banks and mortgage houses, to health plans. I was able to pretty much together with my art director, pull rabbits out of our asses and even then sell them with little assistance from the exec.

I had a CD tell me in an interview, well you've done a lot of retail, but what you've been able to do with retail shows me you have potential to do something really good, you just seem to not have been given a chance to prove yourself. Though the job I was interviewing was just for a shitty account, he said I need someone for this account who is bilingually fluent, and you are a great candidate, but something tells me we could use you for other stuff as well.

For X or Y reason, I didn't take the job and maybe I'm better for it, but it was good to be told: "well what you got ain't that great, but what you made with what you had to work with is impressive". Just hearing that was enough for me because from the ads I showed, he'd seen and noticed a handful of them. In short, he basically told me that what I'd done recently at least showed promise for what I could do in the future, and that though not developing elite level advertising, with the right conditions at the very least I could get better.

After leaving that interview, I couldn't help but remember another interview where the guy was a creative burnout riding the coattails of an ad he'd done almost ten years before. He mentioned the ad at least 5 times and after a while started sounding like that forty year old car sales man that tells everybody of the game winning shot in high school.

Though I could elaborate further, I'd rather just ask one simple question. After the descriptions I gave above, which CD do you think is taken more seriously? (Not by me, but by anyone). Answer this, and you might have an idea of where you could be at in the next 5-10 years.



Unknown said...

I call that "Uncle Rico Syndrome." It starts with "If coach put me in for that last play, we coulda won State." And not too much later, you're driving around with a brown van with a bed in back.

Your point is an important one: If you know what bullshit awards are, you know they're generally a lousy way to judge someone's work, now or a decade from now.

But, at my last corporate job, the owner would do anything he could to rake in a bunch of awards, even cheesy ones--because they looked good on the shelf for clueless clients. Which, painfully enough, made it a clever business move.

Joker said...

HA! Uncle Rico. Couldn't agree more. Thanks for the comment and I do think it's painful to watch a client duped into hiring an agency based on what is on a wall rather than what goes into an Ad. but hey, that's just my way of seeing things... I'm completely sure I'm the only one that thinks that way.... right?

cheers man

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