Jelly Helm, Portfolio Center alum and fuhgeddaboudit-talented when it comes to building brands, visited Atlanta to speak to my classmates and I about ad greatness at the then fledgling Creative Circus. Cross-legged and shoulder-to-shoulder on the floor, and standing shoulder-to-shoulder and lining the walls, we were a packed room with eager ears, minds and hearts hoping even an iota of Jelly's talent would infuse our souls and inspire our work.
Like a good creative, Jelly opened with an idea and his idea was this: advertising sucks.
It was as if we were at a concert to see our favorite band only to watch them walk out on stage with no instruments and begin line dancing, subsequently exiting stage left while saying, "Good night. Thank you!" Minds weren't computing and faces were blank as this Creative Director at Wieden + Kennedy shared his take on the ad biz.
And yet, Jelly Helm was right.
Open an Annual from The One Club and great, thoughtful, and creative communications jump off the pages at you. Only one problem: the annual, cumulative pages of awards books represent a small percentage of the communications pointed our way each year; good, empathetic work is not ubiquitous. What's more, there are no ad-pollution laws in place to keep those branding messages putting a drain on us -- like annoying, thirsty mosquitos -- at bay.
Advertising does suck. It sucks because most ads take more than they give. Brands demand our attention, want our dollars, and yet continually fail to nurture that most important of all business relationships: the one with the customer.
Advertising is an industry that helps businesses communicate. The way to ensure that advertising sucks less and less is to help brands realize that they need to take more time to respect community, the environment, the planet, people, as well as profits. Commerce isn't there yet, but we're on the road; proof comes in the form of B Corps, impact investments, and talented communicators like Jelly Helm (TEDx talk).
We'll arrive and, when that day comes, awards judges will need to request compensation.