Truth in Advertising

by John Kenney

I chose to read this book for obvious reasons especially with my upcoming ad school deadlines (cries a river).

The story isn’t bad but it isn’t fantastic. It’s not that humorous and it’s not that fresh. But I did enjoy it because I enjoy reading about things related to ad agencies.

But i did realize one thing, and I feel like it’s a very important thing to realize.

I realized the difference between a really good writer and a novice writer. They say that the story often makes it or breaks it. You get seriously shitty writing like Twilight and 50 Shades and it ends up selling a gazillion copies because it has a fantastic story? Okay, the story isn’t the Three Musketeers or anything but people obviously enjoy reading about it. So besides that, besides the 50 shades of the literary world. What is the difference between a heavy weight writer and a novice?

this might be complete speculation on my part and it will be difficult to explain because it is more a feeling than anything else. Novice writes without weight, they put down words that they think would work, they do jokes because the writing feels dry, but a lot of the times it isn’t funny and it lacks depth. They write deep philosophical paragraphs about the laments of life and living in a busy city like New York, it feels hollow, no matter how deep they may think they are (all my stuff feels deep to me at the time then it’s really not). While long time novelists or extremely confident first timers writers write with depth. Maybe they thought a lot about it, maybe they didn’t but their extreme confidence in their own style and writing brings the depth, it brings the weight. And when you, as a reader, gets a woah sort of feeling, even if you have no idea what’s happening (e.g. me reading 2666).

Confidence in style translates directly to the reader. Novice writers dont have that confidence a lot of the times, especially apparent in young people? I don’t know what I’m saying.


page 296

I say, “Is it enough? What we do?”
Martin stares for a time. “No. It’s not enough. Relative to a trauma surgeon or special ed teacher or UN AIDS worker in Uganda, no. It’s not nearly enough. But I’m not any of those things. And i’m okay with that. I like what I do. I think what we do has value. Good companies matter to people. Their products matter to people. Do they make a difference in their lives? Probably not. But it does matter. By the way, in the time I’ve been here, this agency has worked on campaigns to get teenagers to stop smoking, bring inner-city children to camp for the summer, a battered women’s shelter in queens, and the New York chapter of the American Red Cross. For free. And we’ve changed people’s lives as a result. I think that’s a pretty god way to make a living.”

I’m waiting for him to fire me, waiting to be humiliated because I do not understand basic things sometimes.

“Do you know how many portfolios we receive each day? copywriters, art directors, people who want to make their living here? and yet I stand with you, a person who wants to throw a good job away. I mean, if I could show you a photo of the woman I’m dining with … and yet here I stand. Why? It’s rhetorical, so don’t try to answer. I stand here because although I have thought about firing you many times with great relish, I don’t. I don’t because I think could be good. But you have to want it. People like you, Fin. That’s not a small thing in this business. You want to hug me now, I know. I have that effect on people.”

Posted: March 5th, 2013
Categories: BOOKS
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