The facts of life

I was talking to Mary Wear the other day.
Mary is an interesting person.
She has pretty much set her life up exactly as she wants.
Rather than just go along with what crops up.
What most of us do is decide between whatever choices we’re given.
Mary doesn’t do that.
She went to university and got a degree in English.
Then she got a job in account handling.
But she didn’t like it much.
It was just lots of meetings about other people’s work.
The creative dept seemed to be having much more fun.
She wanted to do that.
So she quit her job in account handling.
And she went back to college.
She did a course at Hounslow, run by Dave Morris.
And she became a copywriter.
She worked with Damon Collins, and they won a lot of awards together.
Now Mary works at AMV.
A really good job, at a really good agency.
But she also wanted a life outside advertising.
In the country, with her young family and her sheep.
So she set it up so that she works a three day week at AMV.
And she still wins awards.
Now the reason Mary was able to do all this is that she’s very straight.
She’s outspoken in the truest sense: she speaks out.
She doesn’t beat around the bush.
She doesn’t try to guess what other people are thinking.
If she wants something a certain way she’ll say so.
And if she can’t have it, she’ll want to know the reason why.
And she’ll want to debate it
Account men always found this very difficult.
They couldn’t give her a woolly brief.
They couldn’t cover up a lack of thinking with long words.
Put simply, Mary is ‘no nonsense’.
I asked her why she chose to do advertising in the first place.
She said, “Well it’s all around us isn’t it? There’s tons of it everywhere. It’s a fact of life, like architecture. I just thought why can’t it be better?”
I loved that.
No justification, no moral quandary, no need to justify advertising’s purpose.
Just acceptance.
This isn’t difficult.
It’s not art or culture.
It’s not religion.
It’s not medicine.
It’s not politics.
It’s not science.
Why can’t it just be funnier, or catchier, or wittier?
Why can’t it have better music, better writing, better acting.
Why can’t it be something people enjoy, rather than a nuisance?
Instead of arguing whether advertising should or shouldn’t exist.
Instead of arguing whether advertising is good or bad.
Instead of arguing whether advertising is dead or not.
Instead of treating it like a great moral debate.
Why can’t we just accept that it’s there, and let’s do it better?
Just like architecture.
There’s lots of it, it’s everywhere, and it costs a fortune.
The buildings are going up anyway.
Why do they have to be ugly?
We don’t keep arguing about whether or not we need architecture.
It’s a fact of life.
It exists.
As Mary said, advertising is like that.

It exists, it’s a fact of life.
Why can’t we just do it better?

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    Not the Birds + the Bees conversation? Aah, Dave. I ran all the way…

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    Yes, Mary is a very nice person, and good on her, because she does what she wants to do. I’m doing what I want to do too. I’m not going to be a millionaire, I’m not going to set the world on fire, and It’s great fun. At the moment, I’m watching Courgettes grow as seedlings. Incredible? You bet.

    The first pair of leaves came up round and smooth, but if you stroke them one way they are like sandpaper, stroke them the other way, smooth as silk, just like the skin of a dogfish. The next single leaf that came up had serrated edges.
    How weird is that? Ideas are all around us if we just take the time to look.

    Making things better is creating the unexpected, and what can be better than that? Last year I never expected to have a allotment. I never expected to work as a carer whilst waiting for the advertising market to recover. I never expected to paint as much as I have. I found out things about me I never knew existed.

    Somebody once told me “Happiness is inversely proportionate to one’s level of expectation” in other words, the more you expect, the less happy you’ll be. So I told myself one day EXPECT NOTHING. I had the most fabulous day you can imagine out of an ordinary day. The only thing that had changed was my attitude. I’ve never looked back since.

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    Excellent Kevin,
    Buddhists say ‘Desire is misery”.
    Because desire is wishing things were different than they are.
    Which makes us disatisfied with things the way they are.
    Which means we can’t appreciate things the way they are.
    Which is why they also say “Be here now”.

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    Guys, ‘Advertising’ – doesn’t that oft plant desires and aspirations that can’t be realised? [Just a fault!]

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    Grilla,
    Bad advertising does that, sure.
    That’s why it’s bad.
    But the necessity for it always to be like that changed with Bernbach.
    Now we only ‘plant desires and aspirations that can’t be realised’ if we can’t be arsed with the struggle to do decent advertising.
    Sure it’s harder work to do better advertising.
    That’s why 90% of people don’t bother.
    But that’s true of everything.

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    ‘Admiral, the insurance specialist, has appointed Chick Smith Trott to handle its TV advertising account’

    Dave, hearty congrats to you and your team. If your ‘Predatory Thought’ needs an “ARRRRRRRRRRGH, Jim lad”, I’m your guy.

    If it doesn’t, I’m still available […for Panto].

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    Howdy Kevin

    I spent a few days with a group of orphaned kids in Bangladesh awhile back and, boy, they woke up every day with EXPECT NOTHING imprinted in the head.

    A very humbling experience was experienced by I. These kids had next to nothing but seemed to be bursting with joy and laughter.

    Got back to a country full of kids wailing “BOOHOO, Mummy + Daddy, I ain’t got the latest techno gadget and game, oh woe is me!”

    A case of ENOUGH IS NEVER ENOUGH, and goes back to my point about planting seeds of desire etc.

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    i blame it on advertising 🙂

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    But Dave, if Mary hadn’t had the desire to make advertising better, to ‘make things different from the way the are’ she wouldn’t have done any of the great things she’s done. And I bet that’s true of all of us here. Though I do agree that desire can be a painful thing.

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    Take your point Grilla,
    But you can’t just blame advertising for that.
    People were screaming for the iPad, and forming queues round the block, before a single advert ran for it.
    That’s the society we’re in.

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    Dave, I accept that. Don’t like it tho.

    None of we R perfect – so it’d be too far-fetched to imagine our societies will be?

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    Thanks for the compliment Dave, I must admit, it was not of my doing, and it was as tough as hell to change all those years ago. I’ve never heard of the Buddhist Phrase “Desire is misery” but I can see how true it is. As Grilla says: None of we R perfect, but I feel the world is on a course of irreversible convergence.

    The World Cup is a prime example. Years ago team quality would have been split between third and first world. Now, everyone is closer worldwide. I can watch TV,
    (and in my current job, I can watch TV all day, Ha ha! and be part of a World Cup thousands of miles away. It’s such a wonderfully involving event that brings divided continents together in a celebratory way no event other than the Olympics does, because it’s all about now, it’s all about doing better. Now the TV cameras are trawling the townships looking for the deeper stories. Going places they would never have gone before. People don’t believe the world cup will change their lives because many cannot see it already has, but they cannot see that because of everyday preoccupations. I wonder if that’s the difference between the joy of aspiration and the misery of desire.

    Advertising’s not easy in such an environment.
    WHAT A GREAT CHALLENGE!

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    I take your point Rachel.
    There’s not a right answer.
    Just the answer that’s right for each of us.
    I was reading a book on Sartre and Derrida yesterday.
    This sentence jumped out.
    “Nothing can be known with certainty, thus moral judgements become impossible.”

  • Great quote Dave. I also like Oscar Wilde’s “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.’

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    And the funny thing is I bet Mary is now all for woolly briefs.

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    So apt:

    I was lip-reading last night:
    Fabio Capello turned his back to camera to face Stuart Pearce.
    Nobody needed to know what he was saying.
    Stuart Pearce’s reply, a bewildered: “I dunno”
    David Beckham: “XXXX”

    As it turns out, I’m sure Mr Green was very happy to have missed that game.

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    Dave and Rachel those are both great quotes. it’s true to say everyone has their own perception of the truth. however, if someone hit you over the head with a Mallet, that’s exactly what they did. here are 4 more quotes..

    “You can bend it and twist it… You can misuse and abuse it… But even God cannot change the Truth.” Michael Levy.

    “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” Galileo Galilei.

    “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Albert Einstein.

    “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” Mark Twain.

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    Hi Jayne,
    I’ll swap you one of my favourite quotes:
    “Sometimes the opposite of a great truth is another great truth.” Whitehead.

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    BTW Jayne,
    This is an ad my old boss John Webster did about 25 years ago:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3h-T3KQNxU

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    great ad and so true. it’s always so very nice to talk to you Dave 🙂