Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Be Enthusiastic About Vitamin Supplements, Improved Wifi, and Enamel Flooring

This is another post about good qualities for an ad person. In this case though this is a quality that is not just for juniors but applies throughout your career (as far as I can tell).

Be enthusiastic about everything you work on. Even if its objectively boring. As with a lot of these articles the point sounds strange but is also very obvious. You need to be able to find enthusiasm in everything, be it a pan with a new innovative handle, or a slightly improved formula for cake mix.

Now this might sound like I’m just advocating for a glassy smile to make the client happy – I’m not. Being respectful and saying the right things to the client is something you should already know. I mean, come on reader. Get your head in the game.

What I’m saying is you have to find some genuine enthusiasm. Not for the client’s benefit directly. But for the benefit of you, and your work. We all know that we do our best work when we’re enthusiastic about the work we’re doing. But why limit your enthusiasm to the times when you get to work on a beer account or an exciting jewellery brand? Sure, those are a little more obviously interesting. But someone who can only summon up their best work when they get what they want is never going to be more than a mediocre account handler. And you don’t get the great accounts by showing yourself to be unequal to the task when it comes to the more mundane ones.

Let me give an example. This is actually from the creative side. I had a creative director at one of my past agencies who could be enthused by anything. He got excited describing the qualities of a new corporate wifi outlet that one of our clients was releasing. In most other industries having his level of enthusiasm for marginally better wifi would be considered a mild form of delirium. But this is one of the most respected creative directors in the UK. You don’t get to the top through disinterest.

So what does this translate to in the day to day? Simply, it means having a genuine curiosity about life, and about what is going on around you. I hope you do have that (you probably shouldn’t have chosen advertising as a career if that isn’t the case). You have to be able to find a reason to work harder, care more, and take an interest in everything that goes on around your account.

David Ogilvy talked about this, that if your client is a petrol supplier you should spend your weekends at petrol stations talking to drivers. You can’t advance without having the will to learn more.

"Most of the young [people] in agencies are too lazy to do this kind of homework. They remain permanently superficial."

Frankly, it’s a lot easier to do that kind of research and active listening now than it was in his day. Even just searching Google for news once in a while is enough to make a big difference. But you have to be willing to make that effort. And curious enough to keep making the effort even when it eats into your ‘free’ time.

Advertising is the art of driving people to care about goods which often have very little natural emotion pull. How can you possibly succeed in that if you can’t even drive yourself to care about them?

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