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Do We Take Advertising Too Seriously?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Interesting question. In today's business environment, it would seem that we are not taking advertising seriously enough. From consumer advocacy groups and regulatory groups here in the U.S. and internationally to disillusioned communications professionals, we would think that the conversation on how business is conducted revolves around how advertising is evolving.

Could we be wrong?

In the communications industry, we all trade stories about getting to work early, staying late, blowing off steam through nonsensical activities (office nerf wars, early happy hours, etc.) and even working weekends to meet and beat deadlines. We all share our disappointments of missing out on personal or family time. But that is how we perceive the industry to be, right? To do great work, we need to make sacrifices. 

We stumbled onto an article written by a 30-year advertising vet who talked about perspective in the career of advertising. It was not eye-opening, but it did help reel us back from the "industry speak" we know, hear, and speak nearly every day.

He spoke of the most visible change of advertising: the speed. In the years of his prime, creative teams could easily take days to work on advertising concepts and messages. Creative could sit on tables and charts for days before they were even considered being pitched to the client. Now that has changed. The behind-the-scenes window has closed and clients and account teams demand nearly real-time turnarounds when it comes to marketing and advertising campaigns. Because creative teams can no longer take the time to make sure the creative is perfect, teams often see themselves doing patchwork on the fly. He also believes this is the reason why advertising has become dull, for taking risks in advertising demands time and businesses no longer see the value of time. Therefore, in exchange for breakthrough campaigns, we see the same-old, same-old, because we know it usually works.

He then talked about how advertising folks, especially the creative teams, enjoy the acknowledgement and praise of their work more than bonuses and paychecks. If one works at an agency, we're sure you can agree. Being at an agency usually doesn't equate to being in it for the money. We feel like we can change the world we live in through relevant and appealing words, pictures, and well-written humor.

But do we?

The ultimate question lies for us professionals to answer. Are we too bust trying to change the world through advertising that we forget to live in it? We wrote recently about the fact that many people in advertising do not see their profession as valuable to society. We have a serious problem. 

We need perspective. Maybe we should only take on projects that we think will benefit the lives of others. Maybe we should stop the long nights and see friends and family more. Maybe we should step away from the computer and the phone and talk face-to-face with people more.

It's an interesting question. And a question we should all consider.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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