Wednesday, 24 June 2015

so long, and thanks for all the badgers

It’s the beginning of the month, again. A time when events tend to come to a head in adland. True to form the door to my office bursts open and in strolls one of my young protégées swaggering like John Wayne heading for his horse. (Actually more like Nathan Lane doing his John Wayne in Birdcage; With an air of defiance that can only mean one thing he tosses a letter on my desk and declares, “I’m outta here…”

Well, I don’t mind telling you I was shocked, not by his resignation, but by the letter itself. It was concise, made cogent arguments about why I was morally and intellectually dysfunctional, lightly touched on the legality of my parents’ marriage and was peppered with humorous and often poignant references to the agency’s management style.
All in all it was the finest piece of writing I’d read in a long time and by far the best thing the lad had ever pushed across my desk.

It was full of passion you see. Something it appears that young Bob had trouble translating into babies, beans and batteries ads. Passion, of course, has become one of those doomed buzz words so often beloved by the RaRa squads with their “quotes of the day” and inspirational bloody emails. Usually propagated by HR, PR or some evangelist you’ve never met from accounts, they pack the recycle bins of every computer in adland and beyond.
It’s all very well these desktop deliverers of drivel rambling on about pulling together, win, win situations and talking the talk but what of the guys and gals staring at the blank piece of paper confronted by a brief to sell over-priced cars to underpaid workers? It’s not just the passion that can go, it’s the will to live. Luckily the modern world has a response forr virtually everything, even crap jobs.
Artists Anne Elizabeth Moore and Steve Lambert, at Rogers Park cultural centre in Chicago, have founded the Anti-Advertising Agency Foundation for Freedom to counsel disgruntled ad people

Lambert says they want to help people find work that won’t compromise their ethics. “Most people in advertising have a line that they won’t cross or don’t like to cross and the agencies themselves don’t have that. They are there to sell whatever the companies want. And so there is always some sort of conflict and we want to give those people opportunities to work where they won’t have to make those kind of compromises to there values or be put in those positions.”

To do this they’ve created a competition to help push people who’ve been thinking about quitting to cut the cord. To win the award, which is currently about $700, you must provide proof you’ve quit, describe your sleaziest ad campaign, and write about the hopes and dreams you had for the world when you were five.

It may sound like a joke and they admit that they probably won’t see a mass exodus from adland. But Moore says they are reaching people. ”We started this crazy idea and we immediately got these sort of adoring letters from advertisers who are like “I’m so glad you guys are doing this. Oh my god, I’ve wanted to quit my job for so long.” And they are not necessarily committed to quit but that the emotional impetus is there for them to even write to us to me is just so telling.”

Of course disillusionment with the daily bread earning is hardly the sole property of whinging creatives, but few would be resignation wavers have quite so much encouragement.
If you’re going to quit, do it well. With style, panache and single-minded bloodiness. Better still do it for a reward. The International YoungGuns Award’s call-for-entries “Quit in Style” campaign – a collaboration between Droga5 and a group of filmmakers and graphic artists from around the world, features its own site,

It’s a chance to become instantly infamous in adland. Think up the perfect resignation scenario, film it and post it. The category requires creatives to submit work they’ve created specifically around the ‘Quit in Style’ theme, and is open to anyone with an axe to grind against their employers.

The project was overseen and directed by Droga5 Sydney’s Creative Heads, Matty Burton and Cameron Blackley, as a launch-pad for young creatives and directors to host their own content. This will ultimately be judged within the newly created “Craft in Quitting" category and will go on to win a specially made Matt Black Bullet at this year’s YGAward.
It’s the first advertising award dedicated solely to rewarding the colourful world of User Generated Content, an area that many assume sits at the forefront of the industry’s future, yet has been largely ignored on the global awards circuit. So far creatives have been posting a wide range of ideas from taking the boss out drinking and photographing him naked and drunk, to decorating his lunchtime sandwich with pubic hair.

As Matty Burton explains, although the tone of the campaign is outrageous, the idea behind it is firmly based in reality: “Some of us are still young enough to remember the lashing we got as juniors coming up through the business. It’s a bit of a rites of passage thing, like army boot camp, but with less sleep and more beatings! Quit in Style is designed to become a sort of secret 'Fight Club' for junior creatives, where they can meet to compare war stories and more importantly ideas of getting one over on their slave master CDs before they move on to the next challenge. It’s basically a tool-box for the underdogs."

It’s all rather entertaining, unless you’re a boss of course, in which case watch your back out there, I’m off to write a letter.

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