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I’ve had some strange experiences with clients and colleagues over the years.
From watching a creative director projectile vomit over a new clients desk to inadvertently presenting photos of a colleagues genitals on a big screen at a conference and all sorts of weird shit in-between.
The thing is, as mad as those stories are, I know I am not alone in experiencing such moments of madness.
For many years I’ve thought it would be great to try and compile all these stories from around the World so I could publish a book and call it ‘Ridiculous Adventures In Advertising’.
Maybe I will.
Maybe I’ve just given someone else the idea to do it.
Maybe if some of you write your stories in the comments below, it’ll give me the kick-up-the-arse I need to make it happen.
But that’s all by-the-by, because the point of this post is that just recently another of these #onlyinadvertising stories happened to me.
So I was having lunch with someone who works at another agency.
He’s only recently moved to China so wanted to chat through some things about working here.
It was a nice lunch and we talked about a whole host of subjects, but one thing he was really interested in was the role of corruption in society.
This is a really interesting area because while corruption is definitely rife in this country, the fact is not everyone here sees it in the same way as they do in the West.
For many, it’s simply ‘the way business is done’ as opposed to trying to seek an advantage over others.
I remember many years ago being in a conference in Singapore when someone in the audience started saying how corrupt the governments in China and India were. They weren’t very happy when I responded by saying that corruption has many interpretations because while some claim Singapore is the epitome of ethical business behaviour … others could point to the fact the Lee Kuan Yew family – Singapore’s founding family – own [as in financially, as well as influentially] the media, the transport system and – arguably – the countries main investment arm [to name a few] so they’re as corrupt as the nations the audience member was criticising.
Anyway I digress, as usual.
So I was at this lunch and making this point about corruption when my lunch guest started nodding and tapping on his phone.
I asked him what he was doing and he said he had recently read an article that backed my point of view and wanted to show it to me.
Ten seconds later, he thrusts his phone in my hand and while his intention was for me to read the article, I was transfixed by the ad that had appeared at the top of the page …
WHAT THE FUCK!?
I honestly didn’t know what shocked me more.
1. The fact this ad even exists.
2. The fact it was appearing on the Washington Post website.
3. The fact it must have been served because the guy opposite me – who is about 35 years old – must look at stuff online that the algorithms feel makes him the perfect audience for this execution.
To be honest, my head was spinning so much that I found myself ‘fake-reading’ the article.
For a couple of minutes, I nodded, muttered ‘yes’ and pretended to be moving the page while all the time looking at the ad and wondering what was behind it all … before finally handing him back his phone with the words, “very interesting”.
Then I came to my senses and – spotting a chance to be a bastard – I asked him if he could screen shot the page and email it to me so I could show someone else. And he did, hence the image above.
[If you read this blog – which I hope you don’t – I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry, it’s an immaturity affliction]
It won’t come as much of a surprise that the lunch finished shortly afterwards, so while I hope it was all some misunderstanding, the reality is I’ve been shown once again that few industries can attract so many weird people – who do so many weird things – as advertising.
Yes, I know I haven’t worked in too many industries.
Yes, I know there will be some – like film and modelling – that would challenge my proclamation.
But let’s not forget I was a musician, mingling with the weird and wonderful of the international music industry and they STILL didn’t come close to the weird shit I’ve seen in adland.
In some respects, if you take away the dirty elements of the industry, this sort of stuff could be the best ad for joining adland out there.
Well, it could be if you’re a weirdo or slightly twisted.
Oh, and for the record, I didn’t shake his hand goodbye.
Not because I was disgusted – after all, you are innocent until proven guilty – but because I didn’t want to catch something off him. Just in case.
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