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January 21, 2010

The Joy of Advertising

In my free time, I like to play a game called "watch hours upon hours worth of TED videos." My wife says that that's not a game, but we've agreed to disagree.

Anyway, if you don't already know, TED is a series of talks given by people doing interesting things in the fields of technology, entertainment and design. They're smart, interesting and extremely addictive. But this particular talk, by a man with a french name but distinctly British sense of humor, hit me in a place where most of the TED talks can't. 

He says, at the end of his talk (and don't skip to the end just because I said that -- the talk really is worth your quarter of an hour), that "we should be the authors of our own ambition." In a nutshell, that we should determine for ourselves what success really is.

And in an industry where success can be determined in so many different ways, I find that highly encouraging.

Wait, what's that you say?  I don't have to get excited about finally getting client approval on work that they limited  and I know to be mediocre? Um, sweet.

I don't have to feign excitement about work that pays the bills but doesn't necessarily sing creatively? Great! 

I can finally admit that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE winning awards? Fantastic!

And I can finally allow myself (despite 25 years of Catholic guilt being burned into my soul) to get just a little bit excited about the fact that this business can be lucrative if I continue to work my goddamn ass off? 

HOLY JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH! Somebody kiss this son of a bitch the next time they see him, 'cause I owe him one. In a mere 16 minutes and 55 seconds, his talk officially flipped my dipper.

Hope you like it as much as I did. Enjoy.

EDIT: Oh, and I almost forgot to ask the big question: Where to do YOU find Joy in advertising? If you have a minute, we'd love it if you share. So click the comments and get to typing.


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De Botton has also written several good books. I recommend "Status Anxiety" and "How Proust Can Change Your Life."

Actually, I just picked up Status Anxiety today. I'll be sure to try How Proust Can Change Your Life next -- I was going to get it today, but it seemed a little to heavy for my first crack at a new author.

I find mine in that narrow, almost inconceivably small sliver where strategy, insight and creativity overlap.

To write something that I love, my bosses love and the client loves is immensely satisfying, and generally pretty profitable for all involved.

Thanks for sharing. A great talk that I probably would have skipped without the reco.

Here's the irony in this context... Aren't we the bad guys? Doesn't our industry (advertising) seek to impose its versions of success on individuals?

Dammit. That's it. I'm quitting the business.

@Rich Gould

Trust me, I struggle with that very conundrum every day. Thankfully, I think that helps me urge my colleagues and myself towards better, more honest advertising that's lighter on client speak and wack wack. I just pray that the consumer appreciates my efforts.

Thanks for posting this video. I didn't expect to find a philosophical lecture here, but I'm glad I did.

Is Alain right about the power of advertising? I think his view is old fashioned. Surely people's views of themselves as successes or failures aren't influenced that much by ads.

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