Always outnumbered. Generally overdresssed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Panic!

As the creative responsible for some of the biggest ads of the last few years (not wishing to reveal too much about my identity, but think 'Cog', 'Balls', 'Gorilla', 'Surfer', 'Labour isn't working', ''Ello Tosh got a Toshiba?', 'Couple' (Gold Blend), 'A finger of fudge is just enough', those clever Lycatel ads with the man whose head is a globe with a mercator projection of an entire map of the world on one side and whose jacket is made up of hundreds of Lycatel mobile phone cards and all the Confused.com ads ever. I also invented the iPod and bread) I recently upped my day rate to the princely sum of £230.

This might not seem like a huge amount of money, but I think it would strike most sane people as a lot to pay someone who can't draw, to draw. I also write words obviously, but rarely more than six in a row.

Comparisons don't make much sense: it's the same as week's bar or secretarial work, or two days as a mid-level civil servant or a secondary school teacher. Some prostitutes make that much in an hour - but then I don't usually have to have sex with more than one person I don't know in a normal working day.

What it means in practice is that people are now prepared to pay me to deliver, and expect me to do so fairly consistently.

The thing is that this isn't always possible. And what I've discovered is that it especially isn't always possible if you've recently split up with your girlfriend, you're waking up at 6am every morning to write a novel and even at the best of times you're naturally disposed paranoia and insecurity of every kind.

If this is the case then you will almost certainly spend your time thinking about why you're not having any ideas, considering whether you were ever really able to have ideas, whether anyone else has noticed that you're not having anything like £230 of ideas per day, that it's no wonder your girlfriend left you and that you might as well just go and tell the creative directors that there's been a huge mistake and ask them plangently why, if they'd wanted the job done properly, they employed an 8 year old to do it in the first place?

The problem is that when you're a freelancer the imperative to deliver usable advertising is far more pressing. Where as when you're on the payroll you can sort of hide behind the spurious argument that 'oh it's just because the ads were too intelligent/misogynistic/arty/violent' and therefore that it's sort of the client's fault, as a freelancer there is a direct relationship between the bill-able hours you put in, and the agency's bottom line.

If you descend into a state of panic, it's important to remember that, if the agency is any good, they're probably not as mad as you are.

In fact, the agency can only have got to be any good because of the zen-like ability of its creative directors to weather the inconsistencies of their clients' behaviour, as well as that of whatever minor muse it is that caters to advertising creatives.

In fact you could almost go so far as to say that the quality of an agency is proportionate to the willingness of its creative directors to turn down work that isn't good enough, in the certain faith that something better is just over the hill. That really good creative direction is maybe just about recognising talent and having the nerve to hold the line against the client till the good stuff turns up. What characterizes bad agencies being either terrible process, or a lazy reluctance to put up with the hassle of turning stuff down and asking for more.

At any rate, you should try not to panic. When the creative directors take you out for lunch at the end of the week you should definitely not begin by apologising profusely and telling them about your relationship and addiction issues.

They may find this surprising, particularly if they were planning to offer you more work, and on extremely advantageous terms.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fucking great to have you back, how goes the learning an' ting?

Having worked with Mr. Voodoo, I can say that he's worth every penny...

shy wiedens employee

John said...

Just keep saying things like "It's a bit of a funny one this isn't it because..." and then insinuate that the brief is somehow unclear, ill-considered, ineffective, and generally unhelpful. Just act all arty and distant. As long as you LOOK like you're grappling with the brief (rather than inner turmoil), they can't fuckin' touch you.

Er, and Lycatel rocked too. And that was OBVIOUSLY from one of your darkest, most turbulent periods, right?

Gordon Comstock said...

Thank you for the positive affirmation Wiedens Employee. Learning is fine, but it ain't easy.

I might have been in your place this week, only Mr. W cancelled on me by text. Maybe he read this post.

Anonymous said...

Haha, sorry to hear about Mr. W, bad form. I am sure you will be back

SWE