One day, you fall in love. Rose petals are tumbling from the sky. Every song on Spotify is Barry White’s. Cold showers are the order of the day. You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. You can’t get that stupid grin off your face.
You are smitten.
The years go by. Things are good. You’re the perfect couple. Everybody says so. The two of you were made for each other. Romeo and Juliet. Cleopatra and Antony. Meghan and Harry. You are inseparable. Two peas in a pod.
You are advertising and advertising is you. What a time to be alive!
Then, one day, you feel it. It’s not much. A hollowing. Shallow at first but deepening little by little with every year that passes. The all-nighters you once gleefully spent together have lost their luster. Where once those nights bouncing ideas around were electrifying, now all you want to do is go home and watch reruns of 30 Rock.
Some of us are lucky. We never fall out of love. The flame never so much as wavers. But for so many others, well, the flame is all but a faded ember.
But all is not lost. Maybe the feelings are still there. Maybe they’ve just gotten beaten down. Smothered. Lost in the drumbeat, the incessant sameness of it all. At a time like this, you need help. The kind of insights you can only get from people wiser than you.
Kathy Hepinstall is one of the finest creatives in advertising and the best-selling author of The House of Gentle Men, The Absence of Nectar and Blue Asylum. I asked Kathy what she would tell advertising if she suspected the bloom wasn’t on the rose anymore.
“First of all, I’d tell my husband to stop working me 24 hours a day and paying me as little as he can just because he can right now. One day the world will shift, and other husbands will be available. And I’ll remember.”
No relationship is going to last if one of you feels like you’re doing all the work while the other can’t lift a finger. It’s hard to put in all those long hours, all those crappy pizzas with extra cheese, all those lost weekends when you could have been out surfing or hiking or playing hopscotch with your kid, if your partner takes you for granted. Lesson for you: Don’t take this business for granted. You are blessed to have fallen into it. Give it your everything. Lesson for advertising: Don’t take these people for granted. You are blessed to have them. And don’t you dare think for a millisecond that you aren’t. Take care of them. Love them.
Charlotte Moore and I have been friends and colleagues for a long time. I am such a fan that when she kicked my ass at the Kelly Awards with her Nike campaign a few years ago—er, oh alright, a few more than a few—I didn’t bat an eyelash. When Charlotte speaks, I listen.
“I remember my partner, Janet Champ, was considering quitting advertising to write, but in the end she decided not to do that. ‘I’m just going to go deeper,’ she told me. I’ve thought a lot about what that means, that going deeper idea. It’s about trying to take what you do and have done and see where else it can take you. Which is, yes, very much like sticking with a marriage.”
They say the grass is always greener on the other side. And whoever they are, they’re saying it a lot more now. Let’s face it. Advertising isn’t what it used to be. And what it used to be bears little resemblance to what it’s turned out to be. But wait. Before you pack up the U-Haul and hightail it out to Silicon Valley, maybe if you dug a little deeper, tried a little harder, you’d see something in this marriage you hadn’t seen before.
“The first question I would ask is, why are you in it?” That’s David Angelo of David&Goliath in El Segundo, California. When I talk with David, the passion he exudes is infectious. Especially when you understand where it comes from. “If the answer is self-serving, then you’re in it for the wrong reason. Advertising is a creative-driven business that has so much potential to help shift the world for the greater good. It can only stay relevant if the people who are part of it help it evolve.”
Look at it this way. Maybe the problem isn’t that you don’t love advertising anymore. Maybe you two just need to rediscover each other. ca