Loving this new tumblr, Creatures of Adland.

The idea is that just as there are collective nouns for animals - a murder of crows, a crash of rhinos - there should be collective nouns for the denizens of our business.

They're superbly illustrated, but of course they are stereotypes, and I began to wonder... like all stereotypes, do they have a hidden meaning?

I'm talking about the way collective nouns reveal more about the people who coin them, than they do about the creatures being described. For example, the phrase a 'murder' of crows doesn't really tell us anything significant about crows - in reality they are no more murderous than many other birds. But it does tell us plenty about what humans find sinister - darkness, high-pitched screaming noises.

So I apologise in advance to the creative team that created these, who are clearly very talented, first for abusing their copyright and secondly for dissecting their work... but here we go.


A straightforward one to start off with. 'A feast of freelancers' overtly seems to be saying that freelancers earn shitloads of cash. In this very cool image, they are literally swimming in it.

The reality is they aren't. Day rates are static or declining. And obviously you don't earn in-between gigs, or during holidays (or illnesses). The vast majority of freelancers would much rather have a full-time job, should they be offered one.

What this image really tells us is that today's creatives - the people that this image is intended to appeal to - feel they are dramatically underpaid. "Look at those other guys," it says. "They are earning way too much. That should be us."


Again, a very cool image. Superficially, it tells us that Creative Directors say 'no' a lot. Now obviously, that is a huge part of our job. What if two teams present work on the same brief, can we say yes to both? No, clearly we can't. Or even one team presenting several ideas... are we supposed to say yes to all of them? Of course we can't. Also, most ideas aren't good. In fact someone once defined the job as "saying no in an inspirational way."

So what does the image tell us about the mindset of the creatives who created it, and the creatives it will appeal to? In my opinion, and this isn't rocket science, it again speaks to how frustrated today's creatives are. They feel their creativity is being stifled, and the easiest person to blame is the person who most directly blocks it off.

The image may be about ambition too. Are the creative directors portrayed as an obstacle because they are (currently) preventing young creatives from becoming CD's themselves?


I know I keep saying it, but what a fabulous image. The people who put this together have real talent.

But what's it really saying? Superficially it's about anger, but I suspect that it's actually about powerlessness. Creatives have slipped further and further down the hierarchy of the advertising business. Rather than running the show, as we used to, in most agencies there is now no reverence for us or our skills at all.

'Rant' is a great word. To some extent it has positive qualities - the word seems to imply a level of articulacy, and describes someone who is not afraid to speak out.

However, it's fundamentally a powerless word. A rant is purely a public venting - it's not going to actually change anything. A rant is an acknowledgement that you have already lost the debate, and just want to express how angry you are about that. 


Again, I love love love this image. The poses of the creatives are akin to rock stars, and the sea of raised hands in the front also makes me think of the crowd at a gig. On the surface then, the image is saying that creatives are deluded because they think they are rock stars.

But I wonder if it's possible to interpret this image in terms of regret not delusion. Is it about a nagging feeling that we 'settled' for advertising - described in Freakonomics as a 'Second Tier Glamour Profession' along with fashion and publishing, but ranked behind music, art and film? 

We are artistically talented people, we dress cool and 'are' cool... is it possible that, if we'd played our hands differently, we could have become rock stars? Or artists or film-makers? 

Okay, we have reached the end of our session.

Sorry if all this has seemed rather serious and dark. When you go under the skin of a joke, you inevitably kill its humour. And reveal a nest of anxieties and insecurities - which are what give jokes their power.

And in the case of creatives, these images reveal that we feel underpaid, stifled, powerless, and are worrying whether we made the right career choice.

Have a great week!


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