IN ADVERTISING YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A DICK TO BE TALENTED
Updated: Aug 22, 2022
I've never met Andrew Hook, Havas's recently departed Chief Creative Officer, but reading the comments beneath this story on his move to VCCP last week…I wanna!
Of the 24 comments to date 13 actively praise Andrew for being, “one of the nicest creative leaders out there,” a “great personality with a good heart”, and a, “great leader and motivator and, ultimately, a wonderful human being.” Is this guy the Mother Theresa of advertising or what? Andrew, if you’re reading this, please be my friend.
However, as anyone who has ever spent time in the trenches of Mumbrella’s comments section can attest, this outpouring of agreeability could not last and so it was that commenter #12, Yam Seng, kicked down the door of the Andrew Hook Appreciation Society and started shooting:
"I’m not really sure about this agency’s [Edited under Mumbrella’s community guidelines] ….this is kinda confirmed when such a critical make or break hire can only attract comments like ‘nice’ / ‘wonderful human being’ / ‘good heart’ / ‘great personality’ etc."
Just to clarify, Yam Seng does not believe that being a wonderful human being with a good heart and a great personality is what agencies or clients really want. Good to know.
A couple of Andrew Hook’s biggest fans, let’s call them Hookers, race to their hero’s defence but are swotted aside by commenter #15, the cheerfully named Race To The Bottom who states:
"If you care that much about ‘nice’ maybe you should work at a cake shop.”
As a diligent advertising exec we must assume Race To The Bottom has done his/her research and has the data and insights to back up this sweeping generalisation about cake shop workers, but does he/she and the 11 other commenters of comparable persuasion have a point? Is being nice a requirement to work in advertising? Are affability and talent mutually exclusive? Do nice guys finish last and the good die young?
I could, and probably should, now present my research and findings along with some first party quotes that attempt to find a reasoned yet conclusive answer to this conundrum…but I don’t need to. The answer is no, there is no need or excuse for being a dick.
Advertising is a tough enough gig already and it’s not getting any easier. There is pressure coming from management consultancies above and creative apps/platforms below. Clients are more demanding than ever and the consumer more elusive. If the ad industry is going to work it needs to work together because, whether we like it or not, creatives need suits and suits need creatives and we all need each other to get through those all night pitch sessions and early morning briefings.
That doesn’t mean we can’t keep our oddballs and eccentrics, in fact they’re essential, but it is not essential that they be nasty to be visionary. As Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says, “Do not tolerate brilliant jerks. The cost to teamwork is too high.”, and he seems to be doing alright.
One of the more intriguing comments under Andrew’s story is from a user called A Sad State Of Affairs… who says:
“If I met a rock-star covered in tattoos, that had sold millions of albums and was revered the world over, you can allow a bit of arrogant d@*kishness, but not from someone in advertising.”
I respectfully disagree. If I met a rock star, a musical genius I had revered my whole life and he or she turned out to be a dick, I’d be as disappointed in them as anyone I’d met in advertising, probably more so.
When I worked in publishing there was always a dividing line between sales and editorial. The journos thought themselves artists whose wondrous prose drove readers to the news stands in anticipation of their latest opus. The sales guys thought themselves benevolent heroes for paying the salaries of these half-boiled hacks. But when the Internet came for our display ads and classifieds we realised that we needed to work together to adapt and create new offerings such as native advertising, advertorials and events that were both commercially viable and editorially credible. Those that didn’t, died. Let’s not go the same way. Let’s be nice to each other, work together and start honouring our kindest and most generous leaders as well as our most talented. You never know, we might find out they are one and the same.
Originally published on Mumbrella Asia at https://www.mumbrella.asia/2019/03/you-might-be-a-talent-in-advertising-but-that-doesnt-mean-you-have-to-be-a-jerk