Why Advertising?

Why, of all the fields in the world, with all the diverse skills and interests I have, would I pick advertising? Advertising has a high burnout rate and the commitment is huge. Late nights, stressful meetings, having your career balance on the edge of a knife. Why would I pick that? The short answer “passion and boredom.”

For a little bit longer of an answer: I want to be in advertising because it is the most dynamic, most creative, most strategic, most influential field I have ever so much as heard of. Advertising is media, it’s setting the tone of our culture. Advertising influences what people buy, what they think, what they watch, who they elect. Advertising is everywhere, it’s a pervasive force that constantly nudges you. Some might (and often do) say that advertising is unethical or immoral–that it goes against people’s free will by persuading them to think a certain way. I disagree. Advertising is accused of being an agent of corporate greed or political corruption. I disagree.

Advertising is powerful, it does have the power to mold people’s actions. But advertising, like many other things in this world, is amoral. It’s not inherently good, nor is it inherently bad. It just is. As in the medical field, a strong code of ethics – both professional and personal – quickly eliminate, or at least help contain, questionable practices. Ethics is an issue all to itself, however. You can even get graduate degrees on the subject. Bottom line: advertising is only evil if it advertises evil things.

I love the dynamic nature of advertising. There are always new methods being invented for reaching people with a message. First there was newspaper, then magazines, then radio, then TV, then color TV, then the internet. Now there’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (“social media,” as they’re called), cell phones, digital billboards, flash banners, QR codes, direct mail, targeted audio, public transportation, event sponsorships, point of purchase TVs! The list goes on forever and we’re constantly learning–or relearning–how to use each one of the methods we already have. New ideas abound in advertising. Not that the ideas are always new, but often they’ve been flipped around a little or applied to a new situation.

Even without the constant flux of the media landscape, the very nature of advertising is a dynamic one. Comprised of many working parts, the field of advertising is broad and constantly moving (forward or backward, we may never know). Strategists devise new methods of getting inside a consumer’s mind, researchers find and profile our perfect targets, copywriters mold words, artists engage the senses, planners identify the best path for delivery, buyers keep the costs down, producers make the ideas into reality (obviously traffic, finance, and HR make sure we’re on deadline, have the money we need, and get paid at the end of the week, respectively, but where’s the glamour in that?).

Advertising provides an opportunity to do many things, or to do the same thing in many ways. I love the variety and the urgency. As a part of our sleepless media, advertising is a field with tight deadlines and lots of money on the line. Office lock-ins happen. Blood, sweat, and tears. It’s your entire life. There is (or should be) balance, but advertising is a demanding field. It’s challenging. There’s no real fame to be had. The only people who care what you did are other advertising professionals or future clients. You’ll never be a global rock star, but you might get the chance to make one. That’s what I want. I want the responsibility, the influence, and the passion that advertising has. If you don’t love it, you can’t stand it. Why do I want to make advertising my career? You have to be passionate. I’m passionate about it, and I want to work with others who are passionate too.

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