(Note: Because this post is about the crazy world of advertising, I wanted to share what has got to be ONE OF THE WORLD’S CUTEST COMMERCIALS…The folks at Budweiser can tell a story, make ya cry, and make ya think higher of their brand—the endgame in advertising—in just 30 seconds. Take a look…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQB7QRyF4p4
I based my college major and would-be professional career on a 1960s sit-com.
Unbelievable, isn’t it?
I spent four years, lots of my parents’ money, and a considerable amount of mental effort during that time all because I wanted to be like Darrin Stevens (the original one!) on Bewitched.
In a nutshell, I wanted to be an ‘ad man,’ circa 1965. Not the nitty gritty, dark, start-drinking-straight-whiskey-at-10 a.m. cynical persona of Don Draper from Mad Men. More of the think-real-hard-and-you’ll-strike-gold characterizations of Darrin and his opportunistic boss, Larry Tate.
In episode after episode, Darrin and Larry mixed it up with some pretty quirky and cantankerous clients, but they always seemed to emerge from the conference room, the client’s office, or (my favorite) dinner at the Stevens’ home with clients smiling, impromptu story boards sketched on napkins, and Larry just a bit tipsy from his third martini.
I mean, really…how hard could it really be?
Didn’t you just spend your days crafting catchy slogans, stick-in-your-head jingles, and can’t-help-but-look-at billboards?
I was clever.
I knew the power of subliminal suggestion.
I was a natural…wasn’t I?
Oh, how life did not imitate art in this instance. For one, my university was known more for engineers and architects than artsy, creative types back in the eighties. The fact that there were only three advertising-related classes in the entire catalog and that you didn’t get to consider taking them until you were a senior, should have been a slight clue.
Secondly, when I landed my first job out of school at a big agency, I was beside myself. Sure, it was doing mostly secretarial stuff, but just to be around the buzz, the energy, the synergy of the whole creative, collaborative effort was intoxicating…literally.
Came to find out, ‘the buzz’ was real. It came from the pot, alcohol, and other mind-altering options that the creative teams openly enjoyed most afternoons. The multi-million dollar accounts the suits on the 3rd floor worked so hard to land were being scripted, designed, and produced by the free spirits on the 4th floor. The hard-living lifestyle of most of the crew made the copywriters and art directors of Mad Men seem comparably tame.
I was out of my element in so very many ways.
I stayed a year. Got to write a few radio jingles and actually hear them on the radio. Saw TV commercials air during prime time that had originated a few doors down the hall from me. And I learned it takes an unbelievable amount of money to produce a solid, saturate-the-market campaign strong enough to convert tire-kickers to buyers.
Most importantly though, I realized the folly of my perception.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t a good fit for advertising. I loved (and still do) the persuasive power of a few carefully selected words—words that can make you feel good about selecting one brand over another. I loved (and still do!) the whole creative journey—you know, going from concept to completion to happy client. And I truly loved the insight into the whole ad agency process—truly a Herculean team effort.
It sounds absolutely crazy when I put into words my incredibly naïve thought process of my 20-year-old self:
I based my chance at higher education,
my so-called professional training,
my shot at honing a craft,
on a long-running sitcom based on witchcraft.
I know people have made bigger decisions based upon lesser, wackier outside influences and gone on to tremendously successful and fulfilling lives. But really…Darrin Stevens?
All I can say is, I’m glad I based my idea of married life on something much more reasonable…The Dick Van Dyke Show!
Am I the only one who’s made a big life decision based upon crazy, unrealistic expectations? What? You, too?