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Advertising in China is interesting.
That doesn’t mean it’s bad – hell, some is amazing – but there is a whole lot of bad all around the place.
There’s a whole host of reasons for this, of which one is the need to please your boss more than your audience [so that if anything goes wrong, they cannot be directly blamed because they can say they simply ‘did what has always been done’] … which is why if you look at the mass of communication that runs here, many fall into one of two areas:
1. Convey a mass of rational facts.
2. Feature a plethora of celebrity endorsement.
Of course not all ads – or clients – are like that, but a hell of a lot are which is why I feel incredibly fortunate that I don’t have to endure that situation at W+K.
That’s not being a corporate toadie, it’s true … but that being said, I genuinely believe being put in those situations – as I have been on many, many occasions in the past – is good for your learning and development.
Yes, pain & frustration is good for you.
Yes, being told what you’ve done is wrong is good for you.
Yes, having to work well outside your comfort zone is good for you.
Maybe not at the time, but definitely in the long-term.
You see if all you’re ever exposed to is working with open minded, broad thinking, understanding clients, you won’t develop the level of roundedness, adaptiveness, resilience and – to a certain extent – deviousness, that I believe is necessary to grow.
Our job is to help brands go to places they never thought possible … places that attract the audience, rather than always chase them … but if you can’t help clients, especially difficult clients, understand how your recommendation is a commercially wise decision – as opposed to being one of incredible risk – then you’re going to have a career full of ‘could have been’ rather than ‘been there, done that’.
That said, this isn’t just about knowing how to work through the clients process to get to the other side.
Sure, that’s part of it, but the key is being able to do that while maintaining the quality and energy of your original idea … and that’s hard, exceedingly hard … but in a World where the spirit of fear has infiltrated corporations everywhere, it’s a skill that will not only grow in importance over time, but will also help separate your talent from the masses.
That doesn’t come from always having ‘cool-shit ideas’, it comes from understanding business, viewpoints, influencers, prejudices and processes and then knowing how to navigate around them or – if you’re a bit of a devious shit like me – manipulate them, so that you can silence the doubters and enthuse the hopeful.
With your ‘cool-shit ideas.
As good as working on brands like NIKE, Converse, Beats, Chrysler, P&G etc is … I honestly believe my past experiences of failure, disaster, confusion, confrontation and pain helps me do better work for them and makes me a better person for them to work with.
Which basically means that if you’re offered a chance to work on another project or brand – even if it doesn’t sound great on first impression – take it.
It might not be fun at the time [though that’s as much up to you as it is to the client], but the lessons you’ll learn – be it what to do or what not to do – will serve you well in the future, over and over and over again.
PS: If you don’t see things changing or you don’t feel you’re learning or growing, then please  don’t hold me responsible,  re-assess what you’re doing or  leave … because something’s going majorly wrong and it’s either you, your job or Satan.
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