Last week’s Mad Men had a scene that still resonates in the ad world of 45 years later:
What’s the lesson here?
Is the money enough of a ‘thank you’? For some people, perhaps. But not for many. This exposes the central conflict of a creative life in advertising. The writers, art directors (and for that matter, most everybody else) serve their agency and client masters in an act of pure commerce. We want it to be commerce with a sense of soul or purpose. And at the same time, we stake our careers, ambitions and reputations on what we produce. To do that, we need the gratitude–from our clients, our bosses, or our peers–that money doesn’t necessarily buy. Gratitude is also a two-way street–you don’t need to be thanking your bosses or Jesus every morning like Don Draper suggests, but no one in this business works alone. There’s always someone’s signature on a paycheck, and we should be grateful.
It’s the topic of my new column on Talent Zoo, which will be on the home page tomorrow.