Advertising is about two things: getting people to say yes, and getting them to spend money. Whether it’s your clients, your coworkers, or the people you’re advertising to, the same two rules apply. 

It might seem depressing, and if this reductio ad minimum was the extent of the picture, our entire trade would be a parade of insecure narcissists, whoring themselves out to get that desired thumbs up, and the corresponding cha-ching sound. On second thought, it is awards season…

But fortunately for us, if we care enough, we get to decide what it is we want them to say yes to, and we get a say in why they spend their money. There’s a lot of room there to influence the world outside the realm of mere thumbs-upping and dollar-plunking. Which is great news if you believe, as I do, that your intentions matter, that whether your outlook is positive, negative, or totally unclear shows up in the results. 

If creative optimism leads to actual results on the personal level, then its effect is undoubtedly magnified at scale. A lot of people saying yes to something can un-impossible the impossible. And so there’s a lot that advertising can do, simply by getting people to say yes to—and spend more money on—the right things.

So what are the right things? Good question. In my experience, the more I try to pin it down, the more I lose track. So I’ll leave it somewhere around the things that vaguely, kinda-sorta-in-your-gut feel like they’re in line with that far-off world that Dr. King had a dream about, or whatever you think of when you think about the world you’d ideally like your great-grandchildren to live in.

The people we’re trying to reach with our advertising, let’s reach them with uncompromisingly good work that makes them feel and gets them to think, and wins their business by getting them thinking, Yes, that’s what I want to see in the world! 

Let’s get our clients to believe, if they don't already, that scary, dangerous, extremely good ideas, the ones that shake people, kinda wake ‘em up, are the very same ideas that create that thumbs-up, cha-thing feeling. And while we're at it, let's treat them like co-conspirators, collaborators with whom we're engineering something great.

Let’s challenge ourselves to work with clients who want to do things that lead to more better for more people, rather than more for fewer and scraps for everybody else. And let’s show up everyday trying to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, and if we don’t do it today, there’s another chance tomorrow.

Let’s make some ads.