Wanted: 300 Words About Your Horrible Experiences

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A couple of weeks ago, after seeing it on Gawker, I wrote about a Craigslist ad from an author who'd titled his classified: "You hate the Ad business and can write a scathing essay why." The mystery author was asking potential contributors "to testify as to the stuff that we all know goes on behind the scenes: the overbilling, the politics, blamestorming, puffery, layoffs, turn-n-burns, idea stealing, ego-maniacs, inter-office affairs, drug and alcohol problems, client horror stories, and just the general BS that makes up the internal world of the ad business. I want your best rant. Just spew. Go off."

Obviously, that's enough to make anyone who's had a bad day toiling in the advertising fields slobber at a chance to knock the boss.

But no, it was not the work of an account person. Using my crazy-mad investigative-journalist skills (I wrote to the e-mail on the Craigslist ad), I tracked down the author, one Kennedy Grey, a San Fran-based creative director at Digital Pond. (He's also worked at Digitas, Modem Media, Young and Rubicam Brands, and inside Nike's marketing division.) The book, titled "If You Can Read This Ad, You're Not Close Enough," is slated for release next year and is meant to cover "the changing face of advertising and the new dialogue occurring between the ad business and the public because of citizen journalists and influencers in the blogosphere."

In other words, it wasn't meant to be a look at the sleazy underbelly of the advertising industry. Kennedy just wanted to round out the research a bit. "I wrote the ad originally to get some supporting evidence for the book about how the ad business internally is about as harmonious as Rome burning, and wasteful. I didn't expect the level of vitriol in the respondents or the deluge of mail I received."

Here's one example of that vitriol being submitted: "I left advertising after seven years because it was sucking the life out of me creatively. Only the vain and the stupid were promoted, and the boss was fucking the junior producers instead of running the company. Everyone drank, all the time, at work, while 'concepting,' and after hours, where your attendance at these Dante-worthy 'happy hours' was mandatory. ... We were subjected to countless 'gang-bangs,' group idea-sharing sessions where the creative directors would pluck their favorite concepts from the junior and midlevel copywriters, throw a shopworn tagline on it and call it 'the lead idea.'"

Get that copy on a recruitment poster!

As Kennedy put it to me, this kind of material "constitutes a book on its own."

If you've got horror stories you just need to get off your chest, send them his way.
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