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'Futurist' Author Returns to Share His Adman Past

Cindy Gallop Gives 'Adland' Three Martinis, Up

By Published on . 3

Some months ago I came across @drapersbastard on Twitter, proclaiming himself the "branded spawn of a titanic ego and someone from the secretarial pool who had one too many gimlets." His tweets were funny, simultaneously pointed and poignant. So I started following him. I'm a big fan of clever faux industry Twitterers, like @NotSirSorrell, and actually find @BogusBogusky rather more entertaining than @bogusky. (Sorry, Alex!)

I became so intrigued I challenged @drapersbastard to a Three-Martini Lunch. Subsequent dialogue revealed that @drapersbastard was in fact James P. Othmer, author of bestselling novel "The Futurist" and, most recently, an industry romp called "Adland." James and I became "social media friends" -- that is, friends who'd never actually met until our most enjoyable Three-Martini Lunch at 11 Madison Park in September (thoroughly recommended, by the way).

I highlight this original encounter because it is emblematic of why I found "Adland" such an enjoyable and profound read. "Adland" is a meditation on our industry through the lens of a personal story, told by a veteran of the Old World Order who is rapidly acclimatizing to the new. It resonates with everything we love about this industry, everything we hate, everything that keeps us working in it, everything that makes us want to leave and everything that makes us believe in what could still be possible.

"Adland" had me at Chapter 1, which tells the story of Y&R, as the incumbent, trying to retain a very large account that's up for review. Othmer, a former Y&R creative director, is careful not to identify the account, but industry readers will place it immediately. (Especially if, like me and BBH, yours was one of the "younger, hipper" agencies on the pitch list.) It's a brilliant encapsulation of a mix of emotions, ridiculousness, error and desperation that's all too appallingly recognizable:

"With advertising there's something about the combination of having to solve a major corporation's strategic problem in a creative way, while a clock is ticking, the whole time knowing that others in your building and in buildings around the world are also trying to solve the same problem, with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, that is thrilling and somewhat addictive. ... It is creativity. And in the right environment it is contagious. This is what happened to us that morning under the fluorescent lights at that ugly conference table. ... The negativity of the cynic was replaced by the enthusiasm of the creative evangelist. It's a great time. But it is also the most dangerous time for a creative advertising person or anyone in the business of creating ideas for others. Because it is when we begin to care."

"Adland" speaks to all of us who care. It combines Othmer's personal journey with an exploration of how our industry is facing the future via dialogues with Toy, BBDO, Fahrenheit 212, Droga5 and Goodby. Buy it now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cindy Gallop is the founder and CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld, an extremely simple crowd-sourced web platform designed to turn good intentions into action that will be launched this fall. Ms. Gallop spent most of her advertising career at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, where she launched the agency's New York office. She continues to work as an advertising and marketing consultant and is an adviser to a number of technology and media startups. In 2003, Advertising Women of New York named her its Advertising Woman of the Year.

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