If you happen to be a fortunate advertising graduate or a graduate in banking, geoscience or enigmatology with a particular fondness for advertising, that question would inevitably be asked at a job interview. Some interviewers would go like ‘Why the hell advertising’ to make it sound artier…
To my surprise, I always answer in one and the same way. Well, sometimes embellishing the story – spice is always needed.
It was a matter of upbringing in my case. My Father has always challenged me in everything I do – annoying yet helpful. So whenever I had to beg for extra money for presents, I got: ‘Make it yourself.’
Wonderful parenting technique but what if the present turns out really bad… (quite possible, I thought.)
To that, my Father had a ready-made answer: ‘Well, you will have to think how to make it look good … with words.’
So this is how it all started. Crafting things was never my strong point. Word play, on the other hand, has always been.
To please my Father, I made my attempts though:
It proved hard to ‘sell’ the Hairpin Butterfly to my Grandma though.
‘That is a butterfly made of hairpins, there you go and happy new year!’
All she could see (like most of us, I guess) were illogically destroyed hairpins.
The only possible way forward was to ‘target’ her at her ‘Achilles heel’.
She was very respectful of my other Grandma’s opinion. We all know about the Two Grandma Competition. Which of them would buy more stuff, would be a better cook, and ultimately would be more loved. So if I got my Other Grandma to like that present… maybe she was going to give in and finally like it in public, before all the Family.
Other Grandma enters the room. I wink at her. We always had the Secret Language. Plus I was helping her to gain some extra competition points. The mutually beneficial bargain.
‘Look what I got from Angelina’, Grandma 1 said with the least possible enthusiasm.
‘Spectacular! Contemporary art. They talk about it in the news all the time’, stepped in with her widest smile Grandma Saver.
(Auch. That must have hurt. Art and news mention on one line… bonus points)
‘Yes, yes… Now I can see! Although I wouldn’t call it contemporary – it is much ahead of its time. Glimpse into the Future Art is how I would define it’, Grandma 1 changed the strategy in the danger of losing a lot of ground to Grandma Saver.
They carried on for ages, but as I got what I needed out of Grandma 1, I didn’t calculate any more points for the day. So their efforts were in vain.
I didn’t get to think about this exercise before I had to apply for a university course. Back in the distant 2008.
And it hit me. Good with words, tactical thinking and unconventional imagination. There must be a degree for that.
Advertising and Marketing in Lancaster University. That doesn’t sound bad at all.
But it also sounded better than it was. (Maybe to follow in another blog post)
Always worth thinking about the roots of the initial inspiration.
I am extremely grateful to my ever-interested and hence ever-interesting Father for the awkward exercises throughout my Childhood.
I am also eternally indebted to my Mother and Best Friend for interrupting me in every second sentence, so that now I keep it all short, simple and if The Copywriting God is with me – powerful.