It has been two months since i left my job at the advertising agency in Texas. I came back to my love land, New York City. The City has never changed. It has always been the most prominent space of commercial messages. It is everywhere I look. When I stand in the elevator at my office building, there is an ad at the corner of the elevator cart. When I go swimming and look at the bottom, I can see an ad there also. I look up to the skyscrapers;I look through all of the buses passing. Ads, banners, promotional videos flood into my eyes. Every day I walk through Times Square and never stop wondering whether I am in Las Vegas or trapped into a pinball machine.
The Mad Men, as I honorably call my colleagues, all have a big problem. The more messages they create, the more they have to create to reach the consumers. It leads to millions of random bubbles. Then they try desperately to break through the bubbles. And that’s the common tag line that I’ve always heard in a lot of agencies. Well, to be honest, every effort to break the bubble is just to build more bubbles.
I am working in the digital department of the Broadway League, an organization that promotes “Broadway” as a brand. What Broadway League is doing, as well as advertising is always wanting to do, is not to suffuse the atmosphere but to become the atmosphere. Look at Disney! It has succeeded in making us incapable of finding a way outside of theworld that it creates for us. Broadway still has a lot to learn from Disney.
The “Mad men” at Madison Avenue has also given me advice for my infant agency. The process of approaching clients has become second nature. The agency breaks ideas and gives them some kind of a substance or a texture, or a life that they may not know how to create. It dawned to me, eventually, that running a creative business is like producing a play. For me, advertising is a theatre, and I am in its prime location, New York City. I started Blank Brief with the commitment to create clients’ shows. I refer the target audience of my clients as “the individuals”, not “the mass”, which I has made very clear to other staff designers as well. I prepare nothing when approaching a prospective client.I take their product, or ask them to provide a service to a consumer that has never heard from them before. If it was for an opening season for a theatre company, I would host a reading night. At the end of the day, I would always ask the consumer to throw out adjectives that describe his/her first impression. I then produce the campaign based on what is said by the consumer. ( See more explanation at “Play what is written. Produce what is understood”). I always tell my clients that if they become part of the culture, they are going to make huge success. There is a need to focus on the style and the spirit, which is more important than building a spot around what they think of their own products. This is really an advertising 101.
A journalist once asked me whether the pitch should aim at the head or the heart and how artful an ad can get and still be an ad. It depends. For me, an ad is more of the reflection of the guy who is creating it, not the guy who pays the money.