Advertising is the Discovery Channel

My wife likes to relax watching the Cookery Channel.
When I get the remote, I switch to Discovery.
Or the History Channel, or the Military Channel, or How Things Work.
One of us ends up watching TV in the front room.
The other one has to watch the TV in the kitchen.
Unless they make a programme called, ‘Great Meals Cooked In Panzer Tanks’ we can’t watch TV together.
She can’t understand why I watch so many documentaries.
The thing is, like most blokes, I love to learn stuff.
Blokes love information.
It’s the male version of gossip.
Listen to blokes in pubs.
Whatever the subject they’re talking about, at least half the conversation will start, “Did you know….”.
It’s like the scene in Gregory’s Girl.
Two young guys are waiting at a bus stop discussing how to chat up girls.
Eventually a girl comes along to wait for the bus.
One of the guys turns to her and says, “Did you know that, when you sneeze, the air comes out of your nose faster than the speed of sound? That’s why you make a noise, it breaks the sound barrier.”
The girl is bored and turns away.
Whereas I’m thinking, “I didn’t know that, that’s really interesting.”
What I love about advertising is it’s like The Discovery Channel.
You get paid to find out new stuff.
I’ve worked on loads of beers and talked to lots of head brewers.
Did you know that every beer in the world must chemically recreate one of 4 water sources before they can brew it?
If it’s stout, it’s Liffey.
If it’s dark lager, it’s Munchen.
If it’s pale lager, it’s Pilsen.
If it’s ale, it’s Burton.
Isn’t that fascinating?
I’ve worked on lots of cars and talked to lots of different technical guys.
Did you know a boxer engine is the only engine that can give you a 4WD in-line drive train?
Because it’s low enough to go in front of the front axle.
An upright or V-engine would make the bonnet too high.
I’ve worked on loads of confectionary and talked to the guys who taste and buy the raw materials.
Do you know English people prefer their chocolate to have slightly ‘cheesy’ taste?
So that’s what buyers look for when they buy cocoa beans.
Which is why our chocolate tastes sweeter than other countries’?
And that’s just the client end.
How about planning?
If you haven’t got a massive P&G size budget how do you reach the massive target market?
Did you know the difference between demographics and psychographics means you can use opinion formers to create a trickle-down effect.
It’s not as hard as it sounds.
Like anything on Discovery Channel, it’s just about lifting up the bonnet and seeing which bit goes where.
Even the most complicated engine works on the same basic principles.
How about the film production process?
Did you know a movie camera uses the same 35mm stock that you use in a standard SLR?
But, instead of going through the camera sideways, it goes top down.
So every frame is half what it would be on a stills camera.
Which means every lens is half what it would be on a stills camera.
When you know that it’s simple.
If you want the effect you’d get with a 28mm lens on your camera, you use a 14mm lens on a film camera.
All this is stuff you wouldn’t learn in any other job.
Because no other job gives you access to so many different disciplines.
And the right to question everybody about their job.
Because the more you learn about their job, the better you can do your job.
With any other job, you just do the same job ever day.
Here, you’re writing a script, doing a voice-over recording, choosing music, going on a photo shoot, overseeing a film set, learning about editing, learning animation.
And all of that is before you come anywhere near learning all the other disciplines in our business.
Strategic thinking, planning and research, traditional media, social media.
All of which is before you come anywhere near learning anything about clients’ business for new business pitches.
Technology, fashion, retail, charitable, financial, medical, automotive.
And learning about how people work.
Sexual differences, racial differences, social and class differences, regional differences, attitudinal differences.
All you need is an enquiring mind.
And the desire to take complicated things and make them simple.

If you’ve got those two things, this isn’t work.
It’s paid fun.

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    Great post as ever, Dave. Only issue I had with it is the ‘fact’ that English people like their chocolate to taste a bit cheesy.

    The aggressive use of inverted commas is because everyone knows the quintessential American chocolate experience Hershey’s is essentially brown Parmesan.

    What gives?

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    Hi Hornet,
    It was what the head buyer at Cadburys told me.
    Think of sweet cheeses like dolcelette or ricotta.
    We certainly seem to like a lot more dairy taste in our chocolate than American, French, or Italians do.

  • Hi Dave,

    I think this quote applies nicely to this post:

    “Wise people learn when they can; fools learn when they must.”
    -The Duke of Wellington.

    Also, did you know:
    the most recent bloke to win “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” worked as an illustrator, and credited the research he had to do throughout his career to his excellent general knowledge skills.

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    Thanks for this great post. This has confirmed that the advertising industry is where I want to start my career.

    Simon

  • Here’s a quote from Akio Morita (Mr Sony) which I’ve used for a while
    on my website
    “Curiosity is the key to creativity”

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    Guy and Stuart,
    Those are great quotes, thanks.

  • I totally agree Dave. I often say to people that one of my favourite things about my job is that I never know what I might end up learning about next. And just as you’re getting bored of one topic, you get a new brief and a whole new burst of curious enthusiasm. Beats working for a living that’s for sure.

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    Hi Lesbian,
    And the even better part is, there are no rules except the ones you make up.
    You learn that as you go along.

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    Dave, did you say cheese for Jules yet?

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    Hi Grilla,
    You are well informed.
    Not until next week though.

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    I have flies on walls and fingers in pies on a global scale, Dave.

    Enjoy your time with Big J – he’s a lovely guy.

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfhKLqtItR0

    i discovered a lovely film last weekend. i wish i was a South American Film Maker – now they’re what i call creative.

    ps. you might find this one a bit girly Dave 🙂

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    “Great Meals Cooked in Panzer Tanks”
    If you find the tank, I’ll bring the Eggs & Bacon. LOL!

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    Deadliest Ors D’oevres?

    Britain’s Hardest Toffee?

    Blitzbeans!

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    A good old axle-grease fry-up.
    Just have to be careful to spit out the odd Rivet.

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    Frog speak, Kevin.

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    Frog speak Grilla:

    I lived with a Frog for 17 years.
    The first time I had snails,
    I was sitting at the end of a long family table in France.
    My wife at the other end.
    I prized out this hot dead lump of gristle and stared at it.
    I thought: “Just a few weeks ago, this happy chappy was
    innocently sliming around lettuce and cabbage when
    some two fingered one thumbed monster Frog
    picked him up and slung him in a deep freeze with a load of his slimy mates.
    Next thing you know, he’s roasted to a crisp in garlic sauce
    dangling on the tip of this miniature French Neptune fork.
    From the far end of the table I heard this thundering voice speaking
    English with a French accent:
    “DON”T THINK ABOUT IT, JUST EAT IT!”

    GULP.

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    any food that takes a conscious effort to ignore in order to consume should only be eaten in desperation – sorry, I am a pleb with a weak stomach.

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    Bananas will c u right, gotno + Kevin.

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    I’m busy Marrow-mindedly munching my way through monster Courgettes from the allotment at the moment. I shall have to wait for England to warm-up a bit more before I can grow Bananas, but the success of growing Green Peppers this year (usually native to Chile) has inspired me to try Orange Peppers next year.
    GRILLA
    If they cut back your jungle, you are always guaranteed a meal at my place.
    GOTNOTEEF
    We can sort out your weak stomach with our Atomic Russian Medicine Cabinet.
    SIX POINT TYPE
    However, if you start growing peas in your lungs or sprout potatoes from your skin as a side effect, I suggest you have some Stout from the River Liffey. Last time I saw the Liffey it was so Green it looked like a thick Pea Soup runny nose dribbling throught he centre of Dublin (or was it Belfast) anyway, it looked like it could single-handedly dissolve a whole Cow.

    Exit bathroom.

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    cheers Kevin – reckon I’ll just avoid munching on rubbery invertebrates and leave the atomic medicines alone.

    what’s with courgettes this year – we came back off holiday and had three of them that were bigger than wine bottles – we’ve given two away and are still trying to work our way through the last one – but the kids have refused to eat it for breakfast.

    My mum called me up on sunday afternoon at 3.30 to tell me that I had to get all of the veg in early this week, as the weather was going to change and we’d probably lose anything left outside – she read it in the Telegraph, so it has to be true (apparently).

    I’ve been out after work each night until it’s almost dark, digging spuds and leeks, moving the onions around in the shed to make room for enough tatties to keep a chip shop running. We’ve got green tomatoes sunbathing on every windowsill and I’ve just picked the last of the beans – but my pepper plants are still ‘trying’ – not sure I’m going to get any success there.

    We’ve grown veg several times in the past, but this seems to be a bumper year and since we moved house and have a bit of garden now we’re self sufficient for a bunch of the staples – it feels great (and tastes even better).

    Reckon I might get myself some dungarees for next year!

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    Kevin, I’d lick the plate so clean a Colgate ‘ring of confidence’ would appear around it. We might even get a “Ping” if the wind’s blowing from a Northeasterly direction.