Most, if not all, in the industry will never admit it. They will say:
“I was born to do it” (clenched fist on desk)
“I’m passionate about advertising” (eyebrows raised, eyes bulging)
“The creative flame burns in me” (palm to general area of the heart)
“I live and breathe advertising” (inhale, exhale)
“I don’t own anything else but T-shirts and Jeans” (picking lint out of pocket)
Allow me to buck the trend. I stumbled into advertising. Yes, you read it right: stumbled, by fate to be exact, rather unknowingly.
You see, I wanted to be a journalist. But the extent of press freedom in Malaysia made me reconsider my decision. I knew I didn’t want to be crunching numbers, work in a suit or become a pop star. I had a vague inclination towards the act of creating something out of scratch, without pre-set guidelines or templates. I had a fetish for generating ideas, daydream and perhaps let my imagination run wild.
There was no indication that my weird preferences would lead to the seemingly pleasant but in fact utterly insane world of advertising. I wandered from one job to another, and with each passing year wondered what if I was not in advertising. Truth be told, I can’t think of doing anything else. But I am doing it by choice and not due to circumstance. I’m hanging on to a thin thread of hope that the industry will change to how it should be.
Creativity is almost non-existent with clients, budgets and timelines taking prominence. Selling the idea has become the prime concern, while selling the product/service with compelling creative takes a back seat. The industry is overrun with textbook regurgitating suits (at both client and agency sides) that lack hard-knock-life experience of giving birth to a campaign.
Nowadays, you hear certain catchphrases more frequently with each passing year:
If it’s not done before, don’t do it.
If you can’t do it, I’ve got 5 other 2-bit agencies waiting.
Are you crazy? We don’t have time for that!
My boss like purple. (grammar error intended).
Get this done by End of Day.
I’m not sure what I want, propose to me first.
Target market? Everyonelah!
Ok, I’ll go with version 37-final-2a-final.
I want the animation to be like (insert Hollywood film).
Can you present to my boss’ boss’ boss?
Before you conclude that this is just another frustrated agency lad without the required number of nuts to overcome typical industry barriers, allow me to set you straight. I have been ‘accepting’ these lowering standard in my beloved line of work for close to 10 years now. Head down, no complains and just get it done was my mantra. If I continue this way, the future looks very bleak indeed. I don’t want to be the one to torch myself in a pile of client briefs after hearing for the umpteenth time that the copy needs to be more… errrr… catchy.
So what am I going to do about this situation? Well, here’s the anti-climax… not much really. But what I can do is spread the word on how I think advertising in Malaysia needs to be tackled in this day and age. If I see, hear or experience something worth of note – either right or wrong – you’ll find it here. It could be about agency on-goings, creative revelations, product insights, consumer guides and everything else in between. And I’ll be looking at the big picture here, without bias to any communications field in particular.
This could become another accident in the making. But if it’s at least half as good as the accident I’m already in, then my objective would be achieved. So check this space, as often as you wish, for a personal view into the world of Malaysian Advertising. Godspeed!
The writer feels a cosmic energy field of resentment heading towards him.
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