This week’s new Dustinland comic is a true story about what happened when my son joined me for a work meeting a couple of weeks ago. It’s funny — he really did a great job and enjoyed it… so I’m trying to encourage that initiative while simultaneously ensure he doesn’t follow me into advertising (in case you weren’t aware, that’s what I do to make money because it sure am hard paying the bills with comics).
Not that marketing hasn’t provided me with a wonderful life I appreciate every day. It’s just that the kid has his whole life ahead of him. I think my reco for him — or any young person — is to strive for a career where you care about the end result. And I mean you care because it means something to you as a person, your values, your artistic sensibilities, your vision of how earth and mankind can be — not because you want to succeed or make money or you simply have self-respect that requires you to do a great job at whatever you do. Now, of course most of us don’t get to do what we want and get paid for it… but that’s what being young is all about. You have the chance to strive for something special, and if that doesn’t pan out, you can fall in line like the rest of us and still have a satisfying life.
This week’s Dustinland comic is based on an event I’m speaking at later this week. See, while I do draw comics, they don’t pay the bills. I’m an ad guy – a creative director. Just like Don Draper, except without the money, women, clothes and alcoholism. And not too long ago, a friend and ex-coworker from my alma mater, Binghamton University, asked me to speak at an event for Binghamton University peeps in NYC Marketing. Just about my career path. So I said sure! And then they came out with a social media ad for the event titled AN EVENING WITH INDUSTRY TYCOONS. To make it even funnier, the other guy may in fact be a tycoon. I mean, I’m not sure what officially makes someone a tycoon, but the other speaker is an actual CEO. Well, I can promise you this: My presentation will definitely include more photos of people drinking 40s.
This week’s Dustinland comic is a fast and cute first world problems sort of deal about something that happened to me late night in the office the other day. No big deal. Just a cute little one. I did draw it in colored pencil though, so that’s different. I’ve been doodling with my kid so I figured why not try his art supplies on my comic just to switch things up. Plus I was too lazy to go downstairs to get my felt-tip pen.
Ok so I assume you read the comic. Yeah, I combined the Syria attack with the Pepsi ad thing. You know, I mean, on the Trump thing I think it’s pretty clear he’s using war for his own political purposes, which to be honest is probably the most normal thing he’s done so far in office. Not that it’s good, it’s just sort of obvious to discuss why he did it after all he said in the past. And then whether it’s right or wrong, that is super complicated. I mean, I was frustrated for so long seeing the world watch and do nothing as innocent families have been killed over and over again in Syria, but I also see what happens when you destabilize regions of the world, or when you put ground troops on the ground. So yeah, I’d rather not get into that. I’d rather talk about the politics of soda!
Man, that ad. That was rough. You’ve got to assume some people who worked on it knew what was coming but were powerless to stop it. I feel for these people, I really do. Because you never know — sometimes 100 people want to do something cool and smart, and 2 people want to do something clueless and horrible, but if those 2 people are important enough, not only will they get their way, but everyone else will be too afraid to tell them any different. Or who knows, maybe everyone screwed up together. Maybe one day we’ll find out what really happened. Until then, I’ll draw cheap shot comics about it.
As you may gather from this week’s Dustinland comic, advertising is a weird business. Sort of a relic from an earlier era in terms of how we still function via partnerships. Now, not every art director or copywriter has a partner, and some agencies function in a more fluid way, but overall, creative partnerships still run pretty rampant in this industry. And there’s a lot that comes with that. I mean, you’re staking your career on this other person. It’s a really big deal with huge stakes—as people who have had unsuccessful partnerships can probably attest to even more so than people with excellent partnerships.
Well, for me and my partner it’s been four years. It’s tough to see it end. Totally on good terms, but still, it will be hard to get used to it. Professionally, we were on point, trusted each other, knew exactly what our strengths and weaknesses were. Personally, well, we “hang out” a lot. Probably see each other more than we see our families, at least during the week. Hell, it’s nice just having someone around who can tell on those days when I woke up in a bad mood and to just leave me alone for the morning until I snap out of it. But hey, it’s work, not play. Business. And, well, I guess… this.
You know, I really did post these fake ad comic things online during the Super Bowl. On Twitter and Facebook. At least, I started to. But then I realized no one cares. Maybe because they were too busy watching the game, and the real ads. Maybe because their Twitter feeds were overflowing with an unfathomable amount of tweets, impossible to keep up with—or to stick out from. Maybe no one got the joke. Who knows.
But I still stand by the true point of my commentary, which is this: Everyone wants to get in on the Super Bowl, and doing it through social media channels seems like the cheap way to do it. But if an ad is a cheap fit that does nothing but stick a corporate brand where it doesn’t belong, no one is going to care. Even on the biggest ad day of the year.
P.S. My favorites are Armaluce, Golden Tate and Demaryius.
Yes, I drew this comic at work. Sometimes when you work in advertising (or other businesses, I would imagine), you have to work late, and part of that time you may just be sitting around waiting. That’s when I drew this comic. Uh… my brain is drained so I don’t know what else to say. Working all the time is not fun. You know, you work to support your family but then you don’t see your family, so then it turns into a weird cliche Don Draper thing and that’s not only not fun, it’s also not original, which may even be worse.
So yeah, money is nice and so are reasonable hours and weekends and vacations. Unfortunately most of us can’t have both. But at least we’re not stepping on landmines every day or eating dirt pies. Always gotta remind yourself of these things when you’re getting grumpy.
Oops – last night I forgot to write a blog post for this week’s comic. So here it is! Yup, advertising ain’t what it used to be. Bet you never heard that one before. But I admit, as much as we like to complain, we have pretty cool jobs. We get to wear jeans to work and we get to think up “big ideas” all day, and sometimes giant companies give us millions of dollars to go make videos and apps and other creative stuff. So yeah, it’s fun. Just not on Sunday on your birthday (true story).
This week’s Dustinland touches on focus groups, which I experience via my day job, aka my only job: an ad man. It sounds really cool if you watch Mad Men, but read this comic and you might think again. You think Don Drapher had to sit there in a focus group in Baltimore for two days straight, eating crappy sandwiches? And at least if he did, he would have been drinking scotch the whole time.
But yeah, focus groups. I don’t want to give people the wrong impression. You should totally participate in them because it’s a really easy way to make some quick cash, and it’s very unlikely you’ll get made fun of because everyone on the other side of the mirror is usually too bored to even bother, unless you say something that’s just mind-blowingly stupid.
I also don’t want to make it seem like focus groups are completely pointless wastes of time and money that exist only to provide client and agency employees with job security and prevent good work from ever being produced. Maybe about half of focus groups work that way. I’m sure this topic has been talked to death by people with way more industry experience and know-how than I have, so I won’t dwell on it. I’ll just say that I think it’s way more useful to test ideas rather than actual work, especially if it’s in a conceptual phase. For example…