At Least One Good Ad Guy!

There’s something you should know about me. I don’t watch TV. I haven’t turned it on for a couple of years now. Haven’t missed it a bit. Try going without it for a month. I dare you. My guess is when you turn it back on you’ll see how ridiculous it is, and how much money this industry makes by peddling fear.

Oh, that almost turned into a digression right out of the gate!

So I’m chatting with a friend online the other month, and we’re talking about her wanting to work as a commercial photographer. I told her to go start talking to ad agencies in her area, and she said there’s a show on TV that gave her the impression that all ad guys are mean, ruthless, and want to do you harm. See I haven’t seen the show so I have no idea what she’s really talking about, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard TV quoted like it was real…

You know my dad used to quote the Brady Bunch to us when we misbehaved too. “Why couldn’t we just be more like the Brady’s? Greg would have just talked to his dad about something like this.”

People – TV lies. I’ve worked in and around it for 20 years. Trust me.

Wow, that was almost another digression…

My point is this–I’d like you to meet Mike. One of the greatest guys I’ve met, and he happens to be an ad guy too.

mike foster.jpg

I can sum up Mike in two words. He cares. He really wants to do great work, and he’s willing to let other people come up with ideas to make it better. He writes great copy, comes up with good creative, then let’s the people he’s hired to help him tweak, refine, suggest, try things. And he treats his freelance artists like we are actually valuable human beings.

My favorite project with Mike is one that he brought in with very little budget for a large health care company in another state. We were brainstorming ways to create production value without, you know, actually spending money. It’s a dance we do frequently in advertising.

I came up with this idea, which when I explained it, sounded kind of dumb. Maybe not as dumb as bewildering. I waved my hands frantically in the air, talked a lot about 2D objects moving in 3D space, used words like “parallax” incorrectly, and in general communicated like one of those apes at the beginning of “2001, A Space Odyssey”.

The editor laughed at me. Mike didn’t. He trusted me enough to turn me loose on a test scene to show him what I was thinking. I’m happy to say it worked. That open-mindedness and willingness to try something new is remarkably rare even in advertising. That’s just one of lots of times over the years Mike has allowed me to test, try, and refine an idea. His direction and input are always positive and encouraging–and keeps us on track. (I do tend to wander).

So now Teresa, my online pal, can behold at least one good ad guy. See, sometimes you can’t believe everything TV tells you–except the ads for large health care organizations that Mike and I work on.

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