"...And Make It Real Creative!" - July 1996

and-make-it-real-creative-logo-1by Andy Capp

...then it was Monday. You unsuccessfully attempted to pound the snooze button permanently into your alarm clock exactly six times, that little stalling problem with the car that you thought had gone away by itself made a comeback in the middle of the busiest intersection (just ahead of every fire truck from station no. 5), and you forgot to bring your briefcase to work...you know, the one with all your private stash sound effects CDs, your day planner, the parking pass you tossed in there on a whim when you accidentally took it out of the car last night...

...then, bracing yourself, you step into work. THAT sales rep is your first face-off of the day. You know the one, everything's last minute, spends more time talking the client out of your creative than selling it, yadda, yadda. Ready for the latest crisis, you're pleasantly surprised to find out that he's made a deal with the local pizza chain that's opening in new markets, to have you do all their radio creative...WITH a budget and bonuses for you built into the contract! The day is looking better...

...then, the GM comes into the production studio looking a little like a twister in an Armani. It seems that the new ads for that big car dealership (the station's largest advertiser, of course) were NOT on the morning show where they were to air fifteen times with time sensitive copy that could never be made up. The worst part is that "little mistakes" like this have been plaguing that client's advertising for months, and the storm with a power tie is tired of excuses. You scramble for some kind of answer, and it turns out that somehow you missed the order--no excuse, human error. The gale force winds of the rest of your conversation rock you like a trailer house in tornado alley...

...then, the call comes. You've never actually met this client, although you've been doing his commercials for several years. A motorcycle shop, mostly straight hard-sell stuff, but last week you did that silly ad about the biker Dad. That silly ad was what made the client take the time to ask his sales rep for your name and then call you to say thanks. His sales had been steadily improving since you've been producing his creative, but this last ad meant his best weekend sale in the shop's history. How do you come up with these great ideas, anyway...

...then, that wonderful new DAW that you've been begging for over the last few years "burps" and the sales presentation you've slaved over disappears. Two minutes of audio representing twenty hours of work, gone in the blink of an icon. All the usual remedies still leave you staring at a blank screen, and you find yourself in that telephonic Purgatory of the computer age...tech support. Two bars into the 12th, repeat of that normally soothing classical on-hold piece, the Sales Manager pops in and wonders if those fifteen dubs of the audio, now lost in the Twilight Zone, can be ready by noon. With a chuckle, the Sales Manager notes that things didn't just vanish when you used analog tape...

...then, it's time to quit putting off that promo. The station has been running this same cash call contest for years, long before you arrived, and now showing all the signs of outliving your tenure. Lately, after coming up with new ways to promote it month after month for several years, the ideas have quit coming, and the chore of updating has become as much fun as a trip to the dentist. In fact, pulling out a wisdom tooth with pliers by yourself would be easier than pulling a new promo out of your brain! Still, it's your cross to bear, so you face the word processor with grim determination and no real hope that the words will come. But suddenly, they do. Not just words, but sentences, paragraphs, some of the best writing you've done for this contest...no, for any promo or spot in months. After all this time, a new twist from a wrung-out lemon...

...then the pizza deal falls through. Turns out that the client has been collecting statements without paying them for months, and no amount of fast talking by the rep could stop collection proceedings. Sure, the Pizza King is mad and NO...to everything. Perhaps it was just as well. You probably would have never seen those bonuses anyway. You find out later that the sales rep still delivered the dubs of the latest ad that the saucy client still wanted to run on the other stations in town...

...then the Cyclone becomes an apologetic breeze. The GM has found out that the courier service didn't deliver the spot for the car dealer (that you had weathered his storm over) until late Saturday afternoon. You didn't forget the order. You haven't even seen the order. A new prey was about to fall victim to the deadly winds of management anger. Sorry...oh, and why didn't you make the meeting this morning? Didn't you write it down in your day planner...

...then, it goes on. The good, the bad, the seemingly utter frustrations that become the thrill of victory...and vise versa. Expecting everything to be perfect, to be on an even keel every day is futile and, frankly, goes contrary to one's creative nature. All the experts in the creative field talk about refilling your creative well, absorbing the experiences life has to offer, adapting those memories into your creative work.

Letting life happen leads to some great creative that reflects the real world and becomes something the audience can relate to. Some years ago I knew a person who was more than a little compulsive, sorting clothes in the closet by color and condiments in the kitchen cupboard alphabetically. I carried that memory, as well as the frustrations of our somewhat Odd Couple friendship, until a commercial order came up for a moving company that wanted to promote how neat and orderly they could make the moving experience. I wrote about a character who had the same quirks as my friend, worried about the mess of a move. The spot did well for the client, even became my first regional Addy, but more important to me was the feedback from listeners. More than once in what was to become a several year run of the ad, I would hear that I must have been writing about someone's friend-mother-husband-lover, because they did the exact same things and would be/were the same way about moving. That made me understand the power of real life in creative work.

Life is messy, filled with surprises of all kinds at every turn. Live it...then, create.

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