My wife is both: (A): fair bit younger than me, and (B): not as influenced by music, in general.
It didn't bother me that she didn't know who The Who is. I was young when they were super popular, so that doesn't make me feel so old. It bothers me more when she doesn't know Talking Heads, or The Ramones, Black Flag, or Violent Femmes. That does make me feel old. But that's neither here nor there. The deal is, "Who are you?", and Pete Townshend's windmill power chords were the subject of discussion the other night, and after a couple of playings, the song, as it will do, stuck in my head. And, as most anything will do, it made me think about advertising.
So, let me ask you - Who Are You?
In Europe, Australia, and most of the time in Canada, people answer that question differently than we do here in the U.S.
Here, we immediately answer with a job title.
In most other places they answer with something else. A description of likes and dislikes, a family name, a place of birth or upbringing, a sexual orientation, marital stauts, parental status, political affilliation, religious preference, or any number of things the individual feels is the beginning of a description of him/herself.
When I started in advertising, the whole idea of a copywriter and an art director sitting down in a room together to "concept" wasn't so new that it wasn't standard - but it was new enough that almost everyone who'd been in the business for any length of time really remembered the old "slide the copy under the door" method of ad creation.
Thankfully, I never had to work that way. Well, not really.
But I fear that, in fact, agencies haven't really moved completely away from thinking that way. Because there still seems to be a predisposition to divide everything by job or department description. And it seems, art directors and copywriters are still the only ones who have the "coming up with ads" thing in theirs.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not for anarchy. Business doesn't get done when everybody does everything. People need specific tasks, and people excel at different things.
But I also don't believe the job description heirarchy is completely a top-down mandate. In fact, I think a huge part of it has to do with individuals' self-defining answers to my question: Who Are You? ---
I'm a writer.
I'm an art director.
I'm a designer.
I'm a digital designer.
I'm a musician.
I'm an illustrator.
I'm a photographer.
I'm a (fill in anything.)
At the highest level, it helps to have a specialist execute. An amateur photographer will get a good shot now and then, or maybe even most of the time. A pro will guarantee it, both on time, and on budget. I'm not advocating an "anybody can do it" approach. Toss a good concept for a good ad, developed by a good art director/copywriter team, on a good designer's desk, and it can become a great piece of communications.
But I am advocating thinking.
First, think about this:
How much can a musician contribute to a communcations idea? Can a designer think up an interesting way to have a conversation with someone? If you're a digital designer, and you hit the "Print" button, are you no longer designing digitally? If you come up with an idea that is extremely visual, but with a great line of copy, and it works in print, on TV, and as an interactive piece online, who are you?
We're communicators. Our job is to communicate. You can say our job is to sell, and yes, it is, but selling is a form of communication. Basically, our job description is: Talk to people. Talk with people. Attempt to get them to see your (your client's) point of view.
Music, art, words, etc. Those are tactics.
Surprise, integrity, education, persuasion, entertainment. Those are strategies.
Ideas are the money. And they can come from anywhere.
Maybe I'm just preachin'from my chair, but, tell me, Who are You?