“I work in advertising: yes, I am polluting the universe…In my line of work no one wants you to be happy, because happy people do not consume.”
-What’s wrong with this guy? Wait a minute!
“Frederic Beigbeder wrote this novel between 1997 and 2000 while he was working at the Young & Rubicam advertising agency. Being an unscrupulous satire on advertising, the book would soon become an international success though, on the other hand, would attract a permanent exclusion of the author from the incriminated professional branch”.
And after reading the above text I’ve decided on buying the “99 Francs″ book with only 4$ from an antique store.
Why did I buy it? Because I’ve had it (for the moment) with marketing and advertising books filled with advices, examples and case studies. I was in need of something new, different and weird at the same time.
I have found in this book the Ten Commandments you will never learn at a Superior Advertising School, though Octave (copy and the main character of the book) has learned them from Marronier (the creative director from the novel).
1. A good copywriter never targets the consumer but the 20 people most likely to employ him (the Art Directors of the 20 best advertising agencies). Consequently, winning prizes in Cannes or at the D & AD Club is far more important than winning market share for a client.
2. The first idea is the best but you should always insist that you need three weeks before you can do a presentation.
3. Advertising is the only job in which you’re paid for doing things badly. When you present the client with a brilliant idea and they want to “make a few alterations”, think long and hard about your salary, then cobble together the crap they’re dictating in thirty seconds flat and chuck a few palm trees in on the storyboard so that you can go and spend a week in Miami or Cap d’Antibes for the filming
4. Always arrive late for meetings. A copywriter who arrives on time looses all his credibility. Never forget that advertisers go to agencies because they don’t have ideas of their own, they feel as if they’ve failed and they resent us for having ideas for them.
5. When you haven’t prepared anything, always be the last to speak and take the credit for what everyone else has said. In any meeting it’s always the last person to speak who’s right. The difference between a senior and a junior is that the senior is better paid and works less. The more you’re paid, the more people listen to you, and the less you speak.
7. Cultivate absenteeism, come to work at noon, never say anything when people say hello…If anyone has a go at you about this, say: “Copywriters don’t work to a timetable just to a deadline.”
8. Never ask anyone their opinion on a campaign.
9. Everyone does the work of the person above them.
10. When a copywriting colleague submits a good ad to you, whatever you do don’t show that you like what they’ve come up with.
Of course, you can only consider this laws if you’re some kind of Don Draper of advertising. Why? Because only when you’ve managed to become someone in your field you can “cultivate absenteeism” or “never target the consumer” or “never ask anyone their opinion on a campaign” but before you get there, you still have a few steps to make:
- Work hard
- Make mistakes
- Learn from your mistakes
- Trade knowledge
- Work smarter
P.S. Don’t forget these 10 commandments are quoted from a satire!
P.P.S The book was made into a film (99 Francs)