Motive: Death of the specialist ad person
by David Smith. So the old specialist ad person is a thing of the past, if the trade press and the chitter-chatter on the street are to be believed. Relegated to the rubbish heap, declared a relic, to be replaced by the hybrid. A shiny young thing who does it all. A sort of creative spoodle or labradooble who doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as one thing, claiming he or she will get bored by specialising in one field. As if writing or designing or photography is like working a position on a production line, screwing the caps on toothpaste tubes, or drilling holes, something that may be mastered in a day and feels mundane after a week.
I am not one to stand in the way of progress, so let me write a eulogy to the specialist adman, and let’s be done with this anachronism once and for all.
Farewell, my old friend, I will always remember you and your doddering ways.
Words are no more than bricks
You old copy fuddy-duddies who spent a lifetime obsessing over words, who could hook the biggest fish with a single line, who could turn haters into lovers with a flourish of prose. Apparently, you wasted your time. Words are no more than bricks, I’ve heard; just slap them together, bish, bash, bosh, and that block of copy is done. They really should have told that to Ogilvy or Wieden or Chiat before they went and built empires with theirs.
And you old art bros. I’m looking at you here, Mr David Kennedy. The stories are legendary of you wandering the corridors, your big jangly keys on your belt, looking more janitor than man with his name on the door, inspiring and scaring the young designers with your keen eye for detail. And I can see you, Mr Clow and Mr Nikata. Why did you settle? You could have been an art guy-cum-strat guy, or a designer slash editor slash UX dude slash producer slash your wrists because there isn’t enough time in the day to be good-at-all-those-things guy.
And my dinosaur planner friends, you big niche monkeys, you should have taken the bloody pictures and graded the film and punched in the backend code. Then you could have been next-lev good. Your current job is so dead-easy that I’m sure you were just bored for most of your life. Or maybe you liked being a failure?
You could be like H&M
A failure like all the cinematographers, directors, editors, photographers, and type designers who fell into the trap of trying to be exceptional at one thing, when they could have been mediocre at lots of things. Why would you want to be the Alexander McQueen of your business, when you could be H&M and make everything?
Oh well, no bother now; it’s time to welcome a new crew, a new way of doing things. Thanks for keeping the chairs warm.
Peace, love, and respect
Your buddy, David
David Smith is a South African creative director working overseas who specialises in sport and words. He aspires to be as awesome as all the people he mentioned in this article.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.