See also the Adland: meaning of life on branded planet book excerpt.
Would you advertise cigarettes, even though a family member has died of cancer.?
James P. Othmer says;
At some point, anyone who's ever worked in advertising has thought about some of this stuff: How far would you go? What account or assignment would you say yes or no to? What if you were a creative star? What if you were broke? At various times, at NW Ayer and later at Y&R I was all of the above -- golden boy, hack, veteran, etc. It's weird, but when I was younger I didn't give this type of thing much thought: I was happy to have a job, to be creative, and we were too busy jamming to think about much more than the assignments at hand.
I left advertising to write books -- the novel THE FUTURIST, then ADLAND and another novel soon to come called HOLY WATER -- not because I hated advertising, but because I wanted something else--more. Then a weird thing happened while doing press for THE FUTURIST: journalists kept asking me about advertising, and what despicable things I may have done during my 20 year career. This got me thinking about some of the choices we make, not just in advertising, but in any profession. So after finally getting published and leaving advertising I turned around and spent two years writing my next book about, yes, advertising, about what it's like working in the information age, specifically the past, present and future of advertising. Of course, advertising being advertising, some of the agencies and stories I wrote about have already been replaced by other stories of the moment, but the themes are timeless.
But, regardless of the era or agency, the questions above, and in this video remain relevant. The video came about after a reading of the book's introduction, after which several people -- ad people, media analysts, people whom I'd feared might interpret the piece as a condemnation of the business -- raved afterward, and said, "That should be your trailer!" And so it is. Turns out that most (not all, judging from my emails) don't see it as a condemnation, but a good thing. They think it's healthy to, you know, think about what we do with our lives.
So, handed the idea by a complete stranger, I went to Kleber Menezes, a friend, former colleague and an excellent Art Director/ACD at Y&R NY. Kleber came up with the visual concept and shot the footage against a white screen. Tracy Spinney, a former colleague and profession VO did the track. Originally I was to say the whole script to camera in front of the screen but Tracy's voice was infinitely better than mine, so we blew the picture up, thankfully obfuscating my head until a cameo at the end. The music was done by the composer Joey Spallina at Tonefarmer in NYC. Joey also happens to be my nephew, who happens to be featured in a painfully funny chapter in the book in which, while still in college, he gets his start in the business doing down and dirty demos in his garage for his crazy uncle's KFC pitch.
The budget this was $0, or as many drinks as they could consume in one night. I hope to do more films and ads on behalf of the book, because so far the book writer's life doesn't pay as well the cat food-ad writer's life.
It's very true. These questions will be asked to you at some point in your career in advertising. In my case, a tutor at Parsons School of Art and Design beat everyone else to it as he asked it in our very first advertising concepting class. Adland at Random House