“It’s Not Worth It” – A confessional piece by a creative ad person

There’s an article that’s been circulating around on social media. It’s about a guy from advertising, Linds Redding, a New Zealand-based art director who worked at BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi, died last month at 52 from an inoperable esophageal cancer. The article was based on his last words before Cancer took him. It striked a chord in me and I’m compelled to echo his sentiments….

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As a creative in the ad industry, I’m used to hearing clients demands, “I needed it yesterday! I want it up by today. I know i just briefed you today but send the campaign proposal by 9am tomorrow!”

Time and time again we deliver. We burn brain cells, burn the midnight oil, burn plans…all so that our clients can sell things people don’t need, help our bosses make their bonus to buy fancy single malt whiskeys and satiate their desire for ever changing cars and gadgets.

Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. And there’s a danger in loving what you do. You start to lose focus on the things and people that matter. You start making excuses. You lose touch with people. You convince yourself that there’s a purpose. “Sorry I can’t make it for your birthday dinner. The client needs to send out the EDM now.” 1 draft, 2 draft, 3 drafts later, changes after changes. And yaknow what? The client didn’t even send the damn edm. In a one liner email “Change of plans. No need edm”. No thanks. ‪#‎truestory‬

I’m no Dalai Lama of life but surely that’s no way to live…..

So what is it all for? Is it worth skipping meals for, cancelling plans with loved ones, replying emails at 2am, rushing, stressing, getting sick, getting gastric, losing hair, gaining white hair and eye bags, giving in to unrealistic demands, being treated like an idea bank that just craps out creative solutions as and when is needed.

“It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling.”

The last paragraph of this article is a hard pill to swallow especially when so much of my life has been dedicated to this industry. And even as I type, I’m completely aware that I could have sent off 4 emails with the time I spent on this rant. But this is a reality check. And while freelancing means being able to work on more meaningful projects, there’s no denying that one must still work on unfavourable projects to pay the bills. I guess this serves more as a self reminder that no matter the industry we’re in or the career path we’ve chosen, we need to re-evaluate our priorities.

If you’re a client or a boss, be compassionate. The people who work for you deserve a life too. For those of you who work for others, maybe its time to take a break, step away from the laptop and finally reply your mum’s whatsapp. That edm can wait. Trust me.

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4 comments

  1. Great thoughts, very well expressed. You are so talented, go brand side… now!

    1. Thanks Thuymi Have you joined the brand side? Is that why you’re in Dubai with Uber?

      1. Yes! I am going through interviews and I am at the point of my career I am also picky of which brand I would like to *own*. To be continued… !!

        1. Good luck I’m sure you’ll succeed where ever you go! 🙂

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