The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Beginning Of The End Or The End Of The Beginning?

I cannot believe it is the end of June.

How did that happen so fast?

The problem with the year going so quickly is that so is my mortality.

When you’re in your thirties or forties … hearing someone has died at 73 seems centuries away, but when you’ve just turned 52, it seems like a week.

I’ve written how much turning 50 has affected me before.

From looking wistfully at photos of people who look a bit like my son, albeit much older … through to how much I love my wife … to finally appreciating a good garden … to talking about my career.

The reality is, if you’re still in adland at my age – or probably any industry – you definitely feel you’re approaching the end of your journey.

And you are …

That doesn’t mean you don’t have a shit-ton to offer or that you’re not doing exciting work … the reality is the industry has always valued ‘new’ over experience – or even creativity for that matter – so it’s just how it goes.

However from a pure ego perspective, it can still sting a little … especially when many of the people getting the acclaim have not done anything of note, other than play the self-publicity game very, very well.

Repeatedly shouting their reframed arguments, judgement on others work or modern takes on old behaviours and then – just as you’re about to turn into a bitter bastard – you realise that’s probably what the previous generation of adfolk thought about you and your mouth – and suddenly things look very different.

And as much as that revelation is a metaphorical kick in the face brings, it also is pretty liberating.

Because while it’s nice to be noticed – and there’s some people out there doing things that truly deserve to be because they’re trying to take the possibilities of creativity to new places, from POCC to Ivy Huang at Tencent to Mr Hoon Kim at Gentle Monster [and I know I’m biased given he’s a client of mine] to the usual suspects like Nils etc to name but a few – the reality is not being defined by your job or your title or your employer is far better for your health, happiness and creativity … and yet that is the opposite of what the industry promotes.

Your value is based on your title.
Your talent is linked to who you work for.
Your reputation is decided by how well known you are rather than what you’ve done.

I get it. I felt that way for a time. But it’s also a bit insane.
I cannot tell you how differently people listened to what I said when I was at Wieden than when I was at Cynic, despite that on many occasions, I was saying EXACTLY the same thing. It happens now with Metallica. People who wouldn’t give me the time of day before suddenly think what I spout has value because some heavy metal musicians treat me as their cat litter tray. But the reality is success is as much down to good fortune as it is talent – even though talent is still very important – so to play to what you think someone wants you to be rather than who you actually are only ends up undermining you.

You may not realise that till later, but at one point you’ll look in the mirror and know.

Let’s be honest, turning 52 is pretty pants.

Even more so when you find a photo of yourself at 22.

Yep, that’s really me … from my passport photo.

Hair, youth and serial killer stare.

But at 52 you ache.
You look older than god.
And you’re made to feel the industry you’ve pretty much given your working life to, is trying to leave you behind purely based on your age.

And despite me having so much fun and doing so much exciting stuff with bands, I still adore adland.

I may not like where it is going or what it now values, but it’s given – and continues to give me – so much and I’ll always be grateful for that.

And while my time in the industry is different to what it once was, it still gives me so much … with the latest gift being the realisation their issue with older people is their problem not mine.

14 Comments so far
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So cute.

Comment by Jemma King

Don’t worry Rob, you still act 20.

Comment by Pete

But seeing that photo of you in your twenties is incredible.

Comment by Pete

How do you think it makes me feel?! Hahaha.

I showed it Otis and he asked, “what happened Daddy?”

Kids. Keeping adults real since day 1.

Comment by Rob

Otis FTW.

Comment by DH

A classic Campbell rant. Actually rant is the wrong word because you talk about a lot of topics and issues that rarely are discussed. The way the advertising industry attempts to connect your self worth with your job/title/clientlist and then openly rejects you once you hit a certain age is psychopathic. But that photo of you as a baby….. incredible.

Comment by George

Yep. As I wrote, it’s the industries issue. And while the impact of that is felt by the people they reject, the industry also gets hurt because there’s a bunch of people who still have the capacity to contribute – from standards and experience to leadership and creativity – but adland chooses to view talent by a number, which is maybe one of the reasons our role, value and influence continues to be impacted.

Thank god there are some brilliant young people coming to the fore. Real talent who are leading by example … but imagine what it could be like if they worked alongside other talent with different experiences. Then maybe it would be unstoppable. Or at least better. Maybe. Ha.

Comment by Rob

You work with Metallica?

Comment by John

As their fluffer.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Not even at that level yet.

Comment by Rob

The flutters fluffer?

Comment by DH

Yet? So you’re saying that’s an ambition of yours?

Comment by John

The problem the ad industry has is it values people by age not talent. Which is basically what yesterdays post was about.

Comment by DH

I have never commented on here before but this post perfectly articulates what I have been thinking.

Comment by Mike

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