“Oh you’re in advertising? Isn’t that so much fun?”
Not if you’re actually in advertising.
Usual images of advertising agencies emphasize the sexy and glamorous – the martini lunches, the creative television advertisements, the dressy advertising executives.
But reality is seldom that and I rarely find books/movies/tv shows that really capture the pathos of advertising.
AMC’s “Mad Men” captures that desperation pretty well but that sense of ennui is detached from the advertising trade. Don Draper, the lead character in the show, is desperate… but not because he’s in advertising.
Afterall, it’s the 60s where everything goes. Meaning they still have long martini lunches, come up with snazzy catch phrases and have a swinging good time. Though it’s depressing to see how screwed up their lives are, they still seem to have alot of fun.
The people in Joshua Ferris’ “Then we came to the end” however are modern advertising people. Meaning they are desperate… desperate cool ironic hipsters but still desperate nevertheless. And unlike “Mad Men”, they are desperate because of the soulless work they do day in day out but can’t bring themselves to leave.
“Yet for all the depression no one ever quit. When someone quit, we couldn’t believe it. ‘I’m becoming a rafting instructor on the Colorado River,’ they said. ‘I’m touring college towns with my garage band.’ We were dumbfounded. It was like they lived on a different planet. Where had they found the derring-do? What would they do about car payments? We got together for going-away drinks on their final day and tried to hide our envy while reminding ourselves that we stil had the freedom and luxury to shop indicriminately.”
Hmmm… sounds like modern advertising to me.
Okie maybe it’s a bit cynical but it’s still pretty accurate to me.
Whoever asks me if advertising is as fun as they think should really read this book.
It will set them straight.