A few days ago, DDB Graduate Program put out a call for people who are 'talented and nice'.
Gee, I hope they meant nice as in, 'won't mind being tortured by being given all the crappy briefs the seniors have rejected', or 'won't bite back when criticised, condemned and complained about relentlessly', or 'won't mind being the idiot at Friday night drinks who becomes next week's hot goss item'. Or all three. Because commercial creatives cannot be nice. The role precludes it.
Commercial creativity doesn't say look at me. It says do what I say or think what I tell you. Creating commercial work is a power trip. If you don't get a buzz out of being a dominatrix with a toy box of whips and feathers – if you don't burn to make your audience do what you say or think what you tell them - you're not going to cut it. And you'll probably be culled, eventually - after you've longed for-e-ver for a beer campaign rather than a retail brochure to work on, and missed out on every overseas shoot. Advertising creatives are wilful, manipulative, devious, clever, fiendish...not nice.
The night I wrote up DDB's news item, I found myself behind two buses while walking home. The buses were stuck in parallel rows of slow crawl traffic on Old South Head Road, and I was stuck on the footpath in a 7kph gait that kept me the same three metres from their arses - both of which were belching diesel fumes into face - all the way from Bondi Junction to Victoria Street.
On the rear of one bus was a half-unrapped banana. On the other, a cannon. After my volcanic spew of giggling about the coincidence of phallic symbols on bus bums had subsided, and the other walkers in business suits and trainers had stopped wanting what I had in my earphones, I began to study the messages.
“Unwrap some long lasting energy,” one suggested. Yeah, right...a banana. So not what I'm going use to refuel. I haven't had anything to eat since lunchtime and I did two dance classes after work, so – sorry - but I am going to dive into a jar of peanut butter. And that's just for starters. You don't even mean it, otherwise you'd have used serious writing, not carefree writing. And what's with the light background? You're telling me bananas are lite food, aren't you? Colour that background chocolate and I'll pay attention.
The other bus back was in a darker mood. “RBT means you need a Plan B,” it warned sternly. Whoa. I need a Plan B. I haven't drunk enough to register .000001 since it was legal for me to do so, but I need a Plan B. It says so, in thick letters and they're ever so slightly askew, like your thinking when you've had a few. My kids need a Plan B. They drink. They're on their Ps. They're not allowed to drive after smelling alcohol on someone else's breath. Zero tolerance. The consequences are dire. They need a Plan B that doesn't include, 'phone mum for a lift' or 'get a lift from a mate who doesn't have a Plan B. “If you're drinking, don't drive,” Plan B poster admonished. Damn. It's so obvious. It's so absolute. Just don't do it. Ok, I won't.
The creatives who wrote Plan B are not nice. They're cunning. They put really funny pictures on a really harsh message and delivered it as an ultimatum. No wriggle room. They made me believe they were nice. Made me think we were friends. I listen to what my friends say and care what they think. That's cunning, Plan B creatives. But you're not nice. You got me.
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