If You Want The Audience To Laugh, Hire A Comedian

High Jive had a reaction to the BooneOakley job posting bit.

When it comes to hunting for talent, agency executives with hiring authority tend to fish in a limited, exclusive pool. In this case, the pool has been sucked even smaller with the requisite CA Annual and One Show credentials. These honors are arguably prestigious, yet neither is particularly inclusive.
Why does an industry that allegedly embraces breakthrough and unconventional solutions never apply the bravado to selecting new employees? Why do we go for the most expected, clichéd and obvious choices?

High Jive’s grinding the diversity axe, and it’s one that clearly needs sharpening. But, for me, it’s not just about promoting racial inclusion. There are also clear business reasons for reaching well beyond one’s comfort zone.
Consider the pace at which our media environment is reinventing itself. I’m not convinced the team with a Gold Pencil is up for the real challenge of the day–reaching customers on their own terms, not the brand’s terms. Also, I don’t believe award show judges are looking for, nor measuring these things.
The fundamental question is how engaging is any well-crafted print campaign? Any TV spot, any radio spot, any piece of mail, any email, any Web site? I’d argue not all that engaging, and I’m talking about the best work here. It might be engaging for a creative director who needs a new team, but what about the consumer leafing through Rolling Stone? Will the One Show-winning double-truck hold the reader’s attention? Will it motivate purchase?
It’s not my place to say who BooneOakley ought to hire. I can only say the only award show concept I’m comfortable with, is one where the audience gets a voice. I don’t care what other creative directors think. I care what customers think.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. David,
    FYI, my intent was to go beyond “racial” inclusion as well. As you point out, the new advertising world demands skills above those held by the usual suspects—i.e., traditional ad practitioners. Even the ones who capture the myopic awards. My overall point was to highlight the contrived exclusivity, which transcends racial boundaries.
    On another point, I care about more than what customers think. Great work has to amaze a number of audiences. First and foremost, the customers. But the other audiences include the competition/marketplace players, the client, the ad industry and one’s internal company hierarchy. And of course, you have to think your own work is great.
    But as always, that’s just my opinion.

  2. I agree, great work has to amaze a number of audiences.
    Here’s an example that amazes me.

  3. So, what, agencies should just hire people who suck? If they’re in CA or the One show, it’s usually because they did great work to get there (unless scam). So they’ve proven themselves.
    I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t ‘born’ into advertising and I did a hell of a lot of shit before I entered this business. I have a range of skills. No point in leaving a good talent pool to look elsewhere only because it’s presumed that’s all they can do. If someone can think laterally, they can usually be applied across the board.