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No that isn't a clickbait headline. It's an important analogy for all of you who want to explain to civilians (people who don't work in advertising) who insist they want to know what it's "really like."
Imagine you’re a Senior Surgeon. Your Head Of Surgery will come in to your office workspace. “I have a big opportunity for you. I want you to work on a new project. In two week's time, a Patient will need a mole removed.”
This doesn't sound like a big opportunity. You've done mole removal before. It takes two hours max. Still, you want to be a team player, so you say: “Fine. No problem.”
“But here’s the thing,” the Head Of Surgery will say. “We don't just want to remove their mole. I mean of course we will remove their mole. But we think what they really need is an appendectomy. So while we definitely will prepare for mole removal surgery, we should also show them the benefits of having an appendectomy. And angioplasty. Perhaps even a liver transplant, too. I know those aren't necessarily your fields, so I’m going to partner you with a freelance Senior Cardiologist who only works from home, and this Swedish grad student named Inga. She’s not in med school but she is studying fashion. She's going to bring some fresh ideas to our hospital.”
You and Inga will sit down in the break room on the five hundred dollar chairs and shoot the shit for a few hours. You will discover that not only is she unfamiliar with liver transplants, she doesn’t even know where the liver is. She happened to meet the Head Of Surgery at Burning Man and he thought she was cool. So that’s why she’s there. The Senior Cardiologist, who you will never actually meet, or even talk to on the phone, charges two thousand a day. On the first day of his two week stint, he will email you no less than eight times, with links to movies and TV shows featuring people who have had open heart surgery. That evening at nine, the cardiologist will email you a link to an old R&B song no one has heard of, with the word "heart," in the title. The body of the email will contain one sentence that reads: We should get Macklemore’s DJ to remix this.
You and Inga spend a half hour researching Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. You will then break for dinner, have two pitchers of beer and shoot the shit some more. Inga will tell you she can’t work past ten-thirty because she’s going to an EDM show and she has VIP tickets. Also she won’t be in tomorrow because she’s “not feeling well." You will never see Inga again. A week or so later, when you ask the hospital's Project Manager where Inga is, she will only say with a cryptic tone that Inga "didn't work out." In addition, you will never receive any more emails from the cardiologist but he'll still bill the hospital for working two weeks anyway.
At one in the morning, still on the first day, you'll get an email from the Head Of Surgery who is nervous. The patient's surgery isn't scheduled until the end of next week, but he really wants to see where you ended up. "Even if it's only initial procedures." You will go into the hospital the next day, hungover and angry. The Head Of Surgery will stop you before you can even reach your desk, asking for your ideas. You have nothing written down and no ideas for procedures at all. In desperation, you show him the video the senior cardiologist sent and mention having it remixed by Macklemore’s DJ Ryan Lewis. To your surprise the head surgeon will become enthusiastic, believing it is a "big procedure."
You will continue this process for a while, because either the Patient or your Head Of Surgery will keep pushing the operation date. Six months later, you are finally ready to talk to the Patient. The Patient will agree to meet at the hospital although he was really hoping you would come to where he works instead. When he shows up thirty minutes late, he will remind everyone in the room of this fact, just to set the tone of the meeting. Still, you will be fully prepared to present to the Patient all the reasons they should have their appendix removed, as well as angioplasty and a liver transplant. At your Head Of Surgery's insistence, you will not bring any procedure detailing how you would remove moles. However, you are prepared to share with the Patient the fact that you can get the cost of all three procedures down to match the original ask which, again, is a simple mole removal. Before you will speak, the Head Of Surgery will turn to you and tell you the Patient doesn’t like a lot of people in the room. He will ask you to wait outside. You will leave the room feeling awkward and ashamed. The Head Of Surgery will take your presentation with him and tell you not to worry.
You will find out three days later from the Head Of Surgery that he never presented your procedures because "the Patient was in a hurry." The truth, you will learn, is different. When the Patient demands only a mole removal, and insists on seeing procedure options, the Head Of Surgery will attempt to remove it by himself the same day. He will botch the job, turning what should have been a routine operation into a absurd nightmare that will end up taking a team of fifteen other surgeons to fix.
You will then watch as the Head Of Surgery will leave the hospital six months later for a different hospital. His new role will be Head Chief Of Surgery.
And that, friends, is your advertising analogy.