Monday, July 24, 2006

Self Discovery Is Not Pretty

I learned something about myself yesterday. My self esteem is hanging from a very thin thread. 

On Friday a whole day's work went down the tube with one click of my mouse. On Saturday I had a four and a half hour drive home. These events did not affect my self esteem.

By Sunday I had to have forty "skeletons" written for a new product excursion. Twenty of them had to be rewritten again [redundant and yet, not redundant] from scratch, because of the file that vaporized on Friday. All so that other people could review them Monday morning for even more people to review after that.

Hard to believe but "skeleton" is a marketing term. It means that someone with an MBA and too much time on their hands came up with yet another layer of crap to make my job as a creative person even more difficult.

I can't just invent products. I have to have "platforms" for them. And the "skeletons" are like stick figures sitting around on the platforms waiting for someone to put a body and clothes on them. This is classic left brain thinking. Linear. Logical. Lame. A, then B, then C, then D. 

I'm all right brain. I go from 1 to 10. There are no stops along the way.  I don't need them.  Someone comes up with a fragment of an idea for something, In a heartbeat I've already named it, packaged it, figured out the target, strategy and done the creative. Okay, next.

But not when there's an MBA in the room. They have to earn their money.  And they do that by taking what I do in a few minutes and turning it into a three day process. For a lot of money.

Its basically just covering your ass when millions of dollars are going to be spent. Even then they can fuck it up.

In fact, while I was working for the leftbrainers on Friday, one of them came in and said --  you could probably skip this part couldn't you? 


Once at a trial by fire seminar for "up and coming new people" held at an offsite location and hosted by the multi-national ad agency I worked for, the participants were given an assignment at 7:00 PM and expected to have the whole thing finished by nine the next morning. An all nighter. One of two during the five day retreat. Assholes. 

My team included a marketing person, a researchperson, a media person, a writer [me] and an art director.  In the olden days, creatives drove the engine and marketing played catch up.  For way too long now marketing and research have been driving the engine and creatives have to follow.

After reading the brief, I knew exactly what the creative had to be. That's the way it goes most of the time. Usually I have to wait for marketing to figure out what I already know, have 12 meetings to discuss it and then, FINALLY, I can start doing my part. No fair starting before they're finished.

Meanwhile at the seminar, without proper marketing supervision, I'd worked out the campaign in my head and started to talk to the art director about what we could do. This frightened the marketing, media, and research mopes. I was outside the box. They were worried that I would be OFF STRATEGY and screw everything up.  I assured them that creative people have the ability to think strategically and there wouldn't be a problem. On the other hand, I also know that creativity is not an option for most left brains.

I was right of course. About them and us. The art director and I wrote and designed a brilliant campaign. No, really. We were asked by the chairman of the agency who was there for our presentation to send it to New York to help save an account that was in deep do do. And I saw it on the air about a year later. No we didn't get any credit. Interoffice teamwork just means that the office with the account gets all the credit no matter who participated. It's part of the NOT INVENTED HERE syndrome.

Magically, the bullshit, and it is ALL bullshit, that the marketing, media, and research people on our team came up with -- the strategy, the rationale, all the reasons for the creative -- fit our work like a new condom. Even though they didn't see the creative until the presentation.  They had no idea if what we did would go with what they did until we presented it. Talk about tight sphincters.  Haaaaaaaa.  I loved it.

But this story is about yesterday, Sunday. And my self esteem, what's left of it.  Thanks to all those "skeletons" I had to write.  I only knew they had to be done Sunday. My own finish line was end of the day -- around five. At 10:00 AM I get a phone call. Turns out they thought noon was better.  Okay, my fault.  I should have ASKED, not assumed.

But, too late. So I work seven straight hours, never moving. Sending "skeletons" as fast as I write them. During the process, I try to reach my contact but she wasn't answering her cell phone.  I start to think she's really angry. I email with apologies. I call her cell again. I just know my long relationship with her company is over. I won't get paid. They must hate me. By the end of the day, having received no feed back, and, at the mercy of my mind, I was emotional toast.

Finally at eight last night she calls to say her daughter took her cell phone for the day while she was busy running a birthday party for a friend, so she's just starting to read everyhing and it's looking good.

I'm not fired? You're not angry?

Sometimes I scare myself.


emmapeeldallas said...

Oh, there is SO much the MBA's manage to F**k up these days, don't get me started.      Excellent post, as always.


swibirun said...

You needed skeletons?  Hell, why didn't ya just ask?  I have tons of them in the closet.

Glad it all turned out okay!  


swibirun said...

PS, just to help your self-esteem, I just refreshed your blog 4 times to give your counter a bigger boost, LOL.  Seriously I did, but only because I read 4 entries.


ladeeoftheworld said...

I think it's the M in MBA that's the root of all evil.  I work with a whole gaggle of MSW's (Master in Social Work).  They toss about  these psychobabble catch phrases and with each utterance from their mouths, my job gets harder.  You see, I'm the drone or worker bee in my clinic.  Somebody has to do the job.


kaydeejay5449 said...

I would have wanted to crawl thru that phone line and choke the  God how rude and irresponsible can one get?  Your self-esteem is just fine.  Someone else's is inflated beyond belief.   Kathy

mombzbe said...

Talk about taking one for the team, Mrs L.  First you lose all that work, then this...
So she was busy running a birthday party...what, did the clown need someone there to hand him the balloons?  :p

suzypwr said...

I think I will take my master's in business and just go away for a while, OK? My self esteem is hurting.

Nah, I was a social worker. I can take anything, lol!