Below, I’ve answered some common questions about advertising. Hopefully this will shed some light on an industry renowned for its darkness.
Dear Huckster: Is the television show Mad Men respresentative of the current advertising world? – GoingMad, Auburn, Alabama
Dear GoingMad: There certainly are some similarities. For instance, there are plenty of egos in this business. However, the womanizing is gone, and the drinking usually doesn’t begin until after five. Usually. One thing Matthew Weiner completely misrepresents is how a person becomes a copywriter. In Mad Men, Peggy becomes a copywriter simply by earning the respect of her peers by proving her talent. O-kay. But what about the industry-accepted initiation process, where everyone gets to write one of the copywriter’s flaws on his half-naked body with a permanent marker? And then there’s the part of the initiation where nobody tells the copywriter about agency happy hours for a whole year until the writer finally walks in on one and confronts everybody about it, whereupon an account executive explains to him that it’s all part of the initiation process. I mean, come ON, Weiner! This is basic stuff.
Dear Huckster: Is it true that some ads never see the light of day, even after they’ve been created by the creative team? - DeadJobs, Louisville, Kentucky
Dear DeadJobs: Yes, it’s true! In fact, only about 1/3 of the advertising created is actually put out into the real world. Most of it gets killed before it even goes out to a client for approval (read revisions). After a job is killed, a very complex procedure takes place. It all starts with what is commonly known in the industry as The Baphomet Procedure (or Bapho, for short, as in, “Let’s Bapho this fucker”Â). During the Baphomet Procedure, the job jacket—a folder containing all the job’s information—is taken to the agency’s Sabbatic Goat Altar. All Altar rooms are different, but most of them are illuminated only with candles and have walls adorned with dark oil paintings depicting hooded monks. Anyway, the job jacket is placed in the Offerings Tray, where it is burned (but not before a drop of the account coordinator’s blood is dripped on it!). Of course, the production manager must wear his/her Goat Mask prior to the sacrifice, otherwise the job will never die and the creative team will forever create work for the project, work that will never, ever get produced. But this goes without saying. Naturally, this is just the beginning of the process. Perhaps one day I’ll divulge the rest of the procedure for killing a job. TEASER: One step involves shaving a cat!
Dear Huckster: I’ve heard there are some pretty tight deadlines in advertising, which can be the cause of a lot of stress. How do employees handle that stress? - Stressman, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Dear Stressman: Great question! Advertising is such a stressful job. Deadlines are pretty much always tight. Sure, there are tight deadlines for other jobs, too, like journalism, but advertising deadlines are much more important. (Obviously!) I mean, if a foreign correspondent doesn’t get his/her work in on time, big deal. A blogger probably already posted that news somewhere on the web anyway. But if we don’t get Brand X’s ad out on time, how will consumers know that Brand X is better than the competition? Riddle me that. We’re Brand X’s only advertising agency! And meanwhile, the guy who blogged about that news happening in a foreign country is probably also posting something bad about Brand X’s product. Great. Just fucking great. Now, not only is our ad not going out on time, but people are going to think Brand X sucks and all because of that foreign correspondent. Thanks, entire journalism industry.
If you have a question for Huckster regarding the advertising industry, please leave one in the comment section and I’ll try to answer it in a future post. Thanks!