A friend of mine from days gone by called me yesterday on my desk phone. In the three years I've been in my current job, my desk phone has rung three times. I figured I had done something horribly wrong somewhere and this was the way they were going to can me.
But, no sweat. It was my old friend, Craig. We were partners in the 1980s, and unlike so many relationships in life, we've stayed friends though we haven't seen each other for two decades and haven't worked together for three.
"George," he said, "I don't understand anything anymore. We get elaborate briefs with big ambitions."
"That's good. Big ambition is always good."
"I'm talking about a brief that says our job is to reverse two-decades of declining sales and loss of marketshare. These are the briefs I've been waiting my whole career for."
Again I said, "That's good."
"But wait," he temporized. "Then I get to the part of the brief where they lay out the creative deliverables."
I hate the word deliverable, so I clarified.
"You mean the stuff you're supposed to make."
"That's right," he said. "So we have this big ambitious brief meant to shake up an established market and reach new prospects."
At this point there were some people hovering around my desk and I needed to move the conversation along. Modern productivity as interpreted by an open-plan office means it's impossible to have a proper conversation.
"Then I get to the stuff we're supposed to make. The stuff we're supposed to make to reach a target that has more ad-blockers than President Trump has too-long ties. The stuff we're supposed to make to promote a new product. The stuff we're supposed to make to reverse a sales decline. The stuff we're supposed to make to have impact."
"A rich media banner, a page takeover, some 300x250s, a Facebook carousel and some 728x90s."
I laughed. But only to keep from screaming.
"You know what I've learned after almost forty years in the business?" Craig said. "You can't get something for nothing. If you want a big impact, you need a big platform."
"Didn't we learn that in 3rd grade," I asked, plaintively.
"They teach it in 3rd grade. They just don't teach it in business school."
"Fuck," I said sagely.
"I gotta go," Craig said. "These 728x90s won't write themselves."