Today, two friends from New York stopped by our home in Park City for lunch, one was a former client, and the other a colleague from my last agency. And it just reminded me again what I love best about advertising.
It is the people.
The people in advertising are different. They are not smarter, or nicer, or more virtuous than people from other careers. Not by a long shot. But they sure are interesting to be around.
These two are passionate about their jobs, but able to step back and find the humor in what we all do (or, what I did) for a living. There are always stories to tell–about places they have traveled, brands they have helped make famous, ads that never ran but should have, triumphs and trip ups –that can entertain me for hours.
Maybe it is because at its heart, advertising is about people. Us. What we want. What we need. What makes us happy. There is drama in that. And I find it infinitely interesting.
According to Don Draper, that sharply articulate Mad Man, “Advertising is based on one thing,happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”
Don Draper is madder and more cynical than most of the people I worked with. I think most of them were absolute optimists at heart. ”Nothing is impossible” is the agency motto at Saatchi & Saatchi. Every creative I ever knew, every account person and every client, had the complete conviction that this next assignment, whatever it might be, would be the one that could change the world, make babies happier, women prettier, men more desirable, and all of us richer.
Occasionally, they would be right.
Helping people to find happiness, in a hundred small ways every day, is what ads are supposed to do. And to do that, you have to crawl into the other guy’s skin, listen to his fears and dreams, then get his attention and gain his trust, all at once. That is a pretty interesting challenge. And it attracts a certain kind of person. A kind of person I like to be around.
These two, today, have found some happiness. You can see it all over their faces. And they made my day, too.
I feel like they brought a taste of my old life, into my new life. And that feels really good.