advertising, and also as a way to assuage the demands of a highly competitive work
. . . a predominantly young, well-resourced, well-educated and fashionable, urban
elite’ (McFall, 2004, p. 22). Advertising practitioners seem like a youthful, fun bunch
of people who by all accounts work and live in a conflict-ridden, extremely stressful
environment. ‘It’s a job that comes with one form of rejection or another built into
every day. You’re either naturally resilient or learn quickly to become so, rolling with
the punches’ (Vonk and Kestin, 2005, p. 163). . . Advertising professionals apparently
only rarely talk about moral issues, and are particularly hesitant to actively question or
critique the values and practices of clients. (Deuze, 2005, p. 136-137)
The strategists and creators of campaigns use keen listening, storytelling skills to humanize
and extol the virtues of their client. They are essentially using an approach that contains a
few elements similar to Appreciative Inquiry, a change-management system developed by
David Cooperrider at Case Western Reserve University. Appreciative Inquiry is defined as:
Any form of organization change, redesign, or planning that begins with a
comprehensive inquiry, analysis, and dialogue of an organization’s positive core, that
involves multiple stakeholders, and then links this knowledge to the organization’s
strategic change agenda and priorities. (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2005, p. 12)
There is a paradoxical disconnect in the world of advertising. In a typical advertising
discovery process, the creative team examines what is working for a client in order to
capitalize on the important services they offer and then a campaign is launched into the
public sphere. That is where the similarities start and end. The advertising or social media
agency is generally hired to brand but not change the corporate or organizational
dynamics. Advertising agencies primarily focus on “this is what we are about” reflection for
the client instead of the future-driven view of “this is where we would like to be.” However,
I am sure that there are a few progressive social media or advertising agencies offering the
integrated services of leadership and change management.
Yet, the same courtesy and understanding provided to articulate and understand the client
is not often extended to workplace relations. The pace is frenetic and it really is survival of
the wittiest. Here is the rub there are often more profound conversations exploring a
product or service than in-depth relational dialogue with coworkers because of time
constraints. The conventional advertising world starts to feel shallow and then a sense of
irony becomes key to survival. Humor is a coping mechanism because the creative
individuals know on some level that a product has become disproportionately elevated and
usurped their importance you either find humor in the absurdity or leave.
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