I try to avoid rants railing on work that’s out there, but this one particularly rubbed me the wrong way. I would vote for the following story as one of the best, most charming stories from last year.
And then the other day I caught this on the tube:
Sometimes I like to imagine the meetings behind the work, but my brain can’t process the conversation in which someone says “Let’s take out the kids and replace them with three yuppy douchebags in an SUV. And let’s pretend they did this all with points from their credit card.”
It’s one thing to be topical and relevant. It’s quite another to blatantly rip off a cool story and repurpose it for lameness. On top of that, this Citibank campaign is supposed to be about true stories. Fail. And they act like they want a genuine conversation, inviting you to share your stories, yet when I try to post a comment on youtube, it requires approval from Citibank. I’m still awaiting approval of my comment.
Should I be shocked by any of this? Hardly. But I think there is a real lesson in the difference between real reality and lame commercial reality.
I’m reading a book called Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped and Canceled, in which various funny people recall not getting it quite right. As I was reading, it struck me how big a role rejection plays in what we do. Our job is basically a stream of rejection, punctuated by the very occasional stepping stone of success. Our partners reject our ideas. Our creative directors reject our ideas. Our clients reject our ideas. Heck, we even reject most of our own ideas. And success in our careers is determined less by how many successes we have, but more by how we handle all the rejections.
I also heard an interview with the book’s author, Jon Friedman, on The Sound of Young America. He hosts “The Rejection Show,” more or less a live version of his book. And in the interview, he explained how once he started doing the show, he became much bolder in his ideas. Because no longer were his failed ideas simply failures. Now they were material for his show. Having the show released him from fear and gave him greater freedom to just go for it.
The point is that you need to be able to take risks and put yourself out there. You need to have the freedom to fail. You want to work at an agency that allows it as part of its culture. An agency that celebrates the spectacular failures. Even more so, you need to give yourself permission to fail. And when you do fail, when you are rejected, get right the hell back up and fail again.