When I look back on my first forty years in advertising, I can realize I’m very thankful for some things.
I never worked for an oil company.
Yeah, we need oil and I’m sure there are plenty of wonderful people working in oil companies, but these days there’s a lot not to like. Apparently, they’ve known their product would destroy the planet for a long time and did everything they could to hide the fact. And now that’s it out in the open and the evidence is everywhere.
This is rather rude don’t ya think?
They own most governments, including ours, and do everything possible to keep pumping, no matter the cost to our children and their children. They spend vast fortunes convincing us they’ve got “synergy” or some such shit but in reality, they’re doing everything in their power to keep the needle in our arms.
So screw the oil companies. I never worked for them and I never will. I feel good about that. If you work for them, you might consider doing something else. Something you can tell your grandkids that will make them proud.
Coke. When I grew up in LA, everyone referred to any soda as a coke (notice the small c).
“You want a coke?”
“What kind you want. We got Pepsi, 7-Up and root beer.”
It was tasty as a kid but not something I had that much access to. Now when I drink a sugar soda I feel like death for an hour. It’s garbage. Pure and simple garbage. All that carbonated sugar or fake sugar, let’s be brutally honest here, is pure garbage.
When I get stuck watching TV commercials I am utterly appalled at the money that’s thrown at convincing people to drink canned syrup that’ll give them diabetes. Billions of dollars have been spent, people have gotten rich and the john’s in this big porkfest got fat and sick. For decades they’ve convinced us that if we drink carbonated water dripping with chemicals and sugar, we’ll have more fun, hang out with beautiful people and live rich, fulfilling and exciting lives.
No thanks. I’m glad I never did any of that.
Personally, I drink water or beer. And yes, I know beer isn’t manna from heaven but it’s pretty damned close on a hundred degree day in Texas.
“But isn’t your beer choice driven by advertising?”
Look at the zillions spent on beer ads and for me personally, it was a waste. I’ve tried a ton of different beers and for the most part I didn’t like them and never went back. I only choose to drink three beer brands because I like the way they taste on a hundred degree Texas day. Like manna from heaven.
The list of awful products and ideas can go on forever that I’m glad I never did. Guns, bombs, cults… Managed to avoid all that.
I did wander briefly into the dark side of politics.
I’d spent a lot of my wasted youth in Direct Response Marketing.
I murdered acres of trees selling software and Disney and TurboTax and gold coins and other silly things.
I knew how to build out direct response campaigns so I got asked to do some political stuff for a local shill. I didn’t know him or his politics but a buck is a buck right?
It was awful. It was evil. And he was the total opposite of me politically. He turned out to be a bit of a crook and after a short stint in politics, went back to pulling the wings off flies.
I guess this is all leading to advice to you younger ad types.
You can afford to say no.
If you care about other humans and the very fate of our planet, you can afford to say no. You can keep your hands clean from lousy businesses and ideas. You can simply walk away from the slimy crap that is seeping in through all the seams.
Spend enough time in this business and you gain superpowers. Use those superpowers to fix all the things that are broken, and that list seems to go up every day.
This is something that gives me hope about you Millennial Types that so many people gripe about. You’re not buying into a lot of the mythologies previous generations swallowed whole. Let’s hope you continue that way.
So not many regrets. I pursued the kinds of clients I wanted to work with and if a client was a crook or was selling something I didn’t agree with, it was a short relationship.
Some day you’ll look back on your career and hopefully you’ll be able to say the same thing.
I’m glad I never did that.