Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What happened to the business?

“Mad Men” returned to great fanfare last night. The nostalgic look at the advertising business in the early 1960s is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Those in the ad world are as obsessed as anyone with the series, while often ruing the fact that the agency business is far less glamorous and swashbuckling today in an age of procurement, discount creativity and heightened financial pressure.- Confessions of an Agency CEO
For those who aren't in the business, this could mean nothing more than just blabbing over the good old days when things are so called easier, with slower pace and greater budget. In fact I couldn't really see the appeal of Mad Men even though I can throughly understand the industry, maybe it's because I am doing all the nasty bit that at the end of the day, I wouldn't want to spend time watching it all over again, albeit more glamourous.

It's true though - in fact in the 80s, even here in Malaysia, advertising was quite glam. There's all the late lunches, drinks in office (well, we still drink at work and we do have late lunches now and then), smoking all sorts of legal or illegal substance before, during and after work, yes, plenty of sleeping around, jet setting around the world to produce commercials and lots of social and relationship building with client outside work. In fact with all that is going on, I am surprised if any work get done at all. But that they did and I am sure some of us old foggies can still remember some of the most iconic ads from the cigarette boys to home appliance (remember Singer?)

But creativity is cheap, in the era where people think they are better than you, everyone who picks up a camera or have Instagram calls themself a photographer and just because you know the language and have read certain books, that makes you a writer. One inside joke (but who's laughing right) goes like this - you won't tell a doctor how to operate on your body but you will tell an art director how to layout a poster and the writer on why you can write better.

With all these, it takes more than just passion to keep you in the business. It's certainly not something I would recommend to anyone. Things are only going to get harder.


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