Talking to the kids

I’ve been asked to speak to an advertising class in the coming weeks. It’s a solid, small liberal arts college several miles from Hooterville. Very buttoned-up school, so I guess I won’t be screaming the f-bomb like I do throughout the course of my day.  So what should I tell these kids?

I could share a recent post with them from Where’s My Jetpack…(read this-his March 9th post “If You Say It Like This, It’s Probably Not True”- it made me snort coffee out my nose!) 

I’ll quote from The Ubiquitous Persuaders and The Happy Soul Industry (which I better finish soon). Then maybe I’ll tell them…. (in no particular order):

Read.  A lot.  Learn to handle your alcohol.  Don’t be offended by foul language because if you are, get into another line of work. Have good self-esteem, because your boss might be George Parker.  Think on your feet.  Have common sense and use it. Don’t be a Dumb Ass. Don’t be a suck-up.  Be a “way above average” writer. Have empathy.  Study people.  Learn from people.  Be aware.  Never say “That’s not my job”. Don’t litter.  You’re a designer, not an artist…there’s a difference.  Be interesting.  Ask a LOT of questions.  Don’t be lazy, cause you’ll work your ass off.  Have chutzpah (and if you don’t know what THAT means, get into another line of fucking work.)

The fresh outta college kids I’ve seen so far are under the impression that “advertising is fun”, “I like helping people”, “I’ve always enjoyed art.”  Please, spare me.   I haven’t seen much in the work ethic department, either. In Hooterville, just like everywhere else, the business is a bitch and you’re only as loved as the last good thing you put out there.  You can go slap car dealer ads together and call THAT art.  Or you can never be satisfied,  and be humbled and challenged every day trying to do something thats meaningful…more importantly, that works.

So, please, before I head over to campus, what else should I tell these kids?

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5 Responses to “Talking to the kids”

  1. Muonwar Says:

    “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.”
    — T.H. Huxley

    Great advice for ad folks… one day they’ll need to know and love industrial compressors, then next they’ll be expected to appreciate the creative minds peopling a staid buttoned-up bank and translate their “vision” into effective ads, while the next day they’ll have to lunch with hi-tech hipsters and talk RIM, Rimbaud, and the efficacy of REM sleep.

    By the way, kids continue to be a screwed up and sadly depressing lot. Remind them they’re entering the workforce at the worst possible time in a couple of generations… that’ll get the bastards to pay attention.

  2. Jetpacks Says:

    I think you nailed it.

    “Sometimes, it’s not art.”

    We have our patrons and we do what they want – and every once in a while you find that rare patron who says “You’re the professional – you tell me.” But more often than not, everyone thinks of themselves as a creative.

  3. bob hoffman Says:

    Tell them this: Never bullshit a client.

  4. phillybikeboy Says:

    I understand the “please spare me” sentiment, but those kids who say “advertising is fun”, “I like helping people”, “I’ve always enjoyed art” are right. It is (or can be) all those things. The problem is one of expectations.

    I’ve been lucky enough to take most of the things I really like to do in life, and make a living off of them. That’s great and that sucks, because when it becomes a job, it’s just that, a job. And jobs suck. They need to know this, “It’s just a fucking job.”

    The best thing they can do is have a full and exciting life outside of work. Have friends who aren’t in the business. Go to movies, plays, concerts, galleries and baseball games. Think globally, drink locally. In any creative endeavor you will learn far more by not doing your job than you ever will doing it. All of my best ideas came while away from work, when I wasn’t even thinking about it.

  5. adchick Says:

    True enough. Advertising can be fun, but it’s also hard work and not for the emotionally fragile. It’s a non-scientific industry full of giant egos…they hire you to do the work, you do it, then they tell you to change it. Clients can (and will if you let them) suck the life and the sanity right out of you…so you’re right when you say have a full life outside of work. Nice to meet you, Phillybikeboy!

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