Advertising's Roller Coaster of Love: Enjoy the Ride
My 14-year-old has his first girlfriend. After I pressed him, he shared that he's feeling nervous, uncertain, insecure, and even afraid, but he knows for sure that he's excited. Most of us have been there and know what a wonderful confusion it is. We have our personal relationships, plus those of us addicted to this insane advertising business have a special love for it and we can relate.
Malcom Gladwell's "10,000-hour rule" says that after years of concerted effort, I am now an expert in my field. So, this should be a cake walk right? But I'll admit, I've been married for over 10,000 hours, and I'm no expert on relationships. Does anyone think I actually know what I'm doing in this business? If so, you would be mistaken. But I love what I'm doing, and I love not knowing what I'm doing. New media, client curve balls, quick turnarounds, unrealistic expectations, it all adds up to uncertainty, insecurity and even fear, but I know for sure, it's exciting.
At Chemistry, we have adopted a culture that embraces the philosophy, "Everything Is an Experiment." This doesn't mean we are guessing. It means we use our experience to make good decisions, create testing models to prove them out, optimize, and take the smartest path. It also means we may go through a closet full of boots, sneakers, heels, sandals, loafers, and flip-flops before we find the glass slipper.
No one has ever learned anything before not knowing what they were doing. I mean, sure, you can drive, but can you drive a race car? You have a comfortable knowledge of how to drive a car, but you are going to wreck a few times before you become a great race car driver. You can't take it to the next level without making a mess. When you embrace the messy process, you can create the unexpected.
Chemistry uses Valentine's Day as our annual client and industry appreciation day. This year, we even created a hotline (844-LUV-4CHEM) for all the lonely companies out there, since this was a particularly tough one for everyone. Yet, spreading the love isn't always easy. We finished our list of all the folks we love and realized we had one relationship that had changed. We felt like we were killing ourselves to make this client happy and the hours spent seemed to reflect that. We felt that over the years since winning the big pitch, we kept adapting, but our review with them last month wasn't pretty. We asked what they would like to see change: the strategy, the creative, the media planning? They did say they loved one thing: the free, no-charge work that we offered and completed for them during Covid. OK. We broke up with them this week.
It would have been sad if not for all the noticeable rejoicing in the agency after announcing that we had moved on. A failed experiment? I don't think there is such a thing if you embrace and learn from it. Elizabeth Barrett Browning summed up my feelings for this business when she said, "Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile."
Happy Valentine's Day. Enjoy the ride.