From Over Here: Adweak Teachings

May 3, 2017 Robin Whalen

Everything I know about life, I learned from AdWeak.

Ok, maybe not life, but for sure advertising.

Forget Kindergarten, for those of us in the business, everything we need to know can be found on the AdWeak twitter profile.

Full disclosure, I’m an ad nerd. And I love AdWeak’s humour. Primarily because like any good parody, they take a real insight and run with it. Some of it hurts, deep deep down. But that means they struck a chord, amiright?

Let’s review some of their past ‘truths’ and break them down.

Ahhh yes, the classic sick day after a weekend. Not to be outdone by the “I’ve got the flu” BEFORE a holiday weekend. Perhaps this happens in our industry because we burn the proverbial midnight oil. Or, maybe because we are surrounded by d!@#heads and need a mental escape? Anyway, this happens. Great sign of your own internal culture if you’re able to manage it and have ongoing, open conversations with your teams to ensure they get the rest and relaxation they need so that they come to work supercharged and energetic.

Full disclosure: I love Hamburger Helper. Not kidding. Also, while this made me chuckle, this is the job of any good ad person, isn’t it? To get inside the minds of our consumer. To really understand what makes them tick. What makes them laugh. What they love. What they hate. So, while we may say “how can you possibly understand my brand if you don’t share everything in common with my consumer”, we’d have a small pool of talent to work with if that was the criteria for picking an agency or agency talent. After all, women can work on beer accounts and men can work on feminine hygiene products. It’s about empathy, and research, and process and understanding. And we’re all capable of this. It’s our JOB. To be able to understand consumers at large.

LOL. I’ve lived this. FOR REAL. “Our account people have better ideas than the creative people!”  “Just tell the creative people what idea we are going with and they can design it.” I could go on, but I won’t, it’s too painful. It happened (again and again and again). So, while this AdWeak tweet and insight was formed from an irrefutable truth, there are sadly agency President’s that think this way in the real world.

And let’s be clear. It’s flat out WRONG. Account people are here to manage the client, to aid in the strategy, to keep financials organized, to contribute to the creative process. We deal with so many moving parts on a day to day basis that we can’t possibly let our internal creative sides go rogue. Because we must be responsible. It’s our job. Make a to-do list and check it off. Creatives on the other hand are tasked with thinking big. Never mind building estimates and schedules. Ruminate, brainstorm, think of the impossible. They can take a good idea from great. Because it’s their job. To be free from schedules and matrixes and daily calls.  So, let’s be clear. Creative departments are absolutely necessary. You wouldn’t hire a butcher to make a soufflé in the same way that you don’t hire an agency without creative people to build a campaign. Full stop.

Boo to ageism in our business!

But alas, it’s true. We place tremendous value on youth (as we should) and all that it brings in the way of creativity, fresh thinking, and innovation.

But hopefully we remember that with age, comes wisdom. And there’s a place for experience in the advertising world. There’s a place for all of us.

I’m guilty of this myself. Spent the first 15 years of my career in ‘big name agencies’. I looked down my nose at those smaller agencies that carried PC’s and Blackberries. And slowly, over time, found myself on the losing end of pitches, many times to those agencies I never dreamed were our competition.

The lesson here is to get over your damn self. Talent goes where talent is appreciated. Where they can grow, learn, have fun, be honest, win, fail and get back up again. The big-name agencies don’t own this. In fact, I’d argue that the smaller shops are scrappier, focussed on what matters, put business growth, culture and client acquisition ahead of PR. So again, you’re on point AdWeak. But ‘big name’ agencies should beware. Those small guys are often ex big guys who consciously chose a different path. We smell different but also carry a big stick.

So thank you AdWeak for my daily laugh. You remind me of why I love this business and why I’ll never leave it. Even when I’m older than everyone else around me, selling beer and condoms, raising a glass with my creative peeps and celebrating the insanity and fun that is advertising. I’ll be here. And I’ll be reading AdWeak.


"Contrary to popular belief, I'm not always right. But in all seriousness, I've walked the walk in many different aspects and this is just how I see things from over here." 

With a dash of wit and a full serving of insight, Robin Whalen, president of The Tite Group, shares her insights on the things, topics, conversations and general goings-on that have earned her minutes. 

This is an inside look at how her thoughts power her actions. 


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