What we're about
About a year ago I was fired from a small, small-town advertising agency for having "lack of entrepreneurial spirit" (that's not a joke). It was a pretty brutal blow to my ego and a massive wake-up call that there are some unscrupulous folks out there and you have to, in the words of the incontrovertible Wu-Tang Clan, protect ya neck. No one else will do it for you. In that spirit I've spent the last year taking care of my daughter, brushing up on some technical skills, and thinking an awful lot about just what the hell it means to want to work in the ad and marketing industry.
Now that I'm getting back into the job hunt I'm finding that there is a very good chance that culturally I'm just not someone who is going to fit into the landscape here in Wisconsin. I have a bunch of tattoos, an MFA in art, and prefer Vans slip-ons to leather loafers. That may fly at the Leo Burnetts of this world, but I'm finding that here in Wisconsin the overall agency vibe tends to lean heavily on the conservative business-bro side of things and less on the let's-be-creative-and-enjoy-life side of things. The job hunt has been exhausting, a bit humiliating, and such a massive waste of my short time here on this Earth. The price of admission is mysterious and it's a dumb game nobody should have to endure.
So what in the world am I on about? I like advertising and the creative and mental challenges that it provides. I like the perhaps too lofty idea that advertising can do some good in this world. It was a career that I was at home in until I made the colossally dumb decision to take a chance in a struggling, small-market agency. I've decided I want to continue in this industry, and I have an idea. In the words of the incontrovertible Suicidal Tendencies, "you can't bring me down."
I want to assemble some tech/marketing/ad weirdos who have experience in the industry (or not!) but are on a similar path and struggling to fit-in at an established organization. Let's think of this as a kind of D&D club, but instead of slaying dragons, let's slay some strategy/creative for a local organization as a formalized pro-bono team of ad/marketing professionals. I'd love to hone in on some education and social organizations, especially ones that target low-income communities, but the sky is the limit here.
I'd would love to get some web developers on board who would like to collaborate on the digital side. We're going to need people with account experience that are not afraid to help with the client-facing side of things. We're going to need designers. We're going to need some social media experts. Copy writers? UX? All aboard, "Fellowship of the Ring" style.
We're all going to need to make some big decisions about the overall structure of our group. For instance, I have this germ of an idea that we keep everything we do, EVERYTHING, public-facing in the spirit of open-source software development. That might be the worst idea ever! We'll talk it out. Maybe we need to get someone like the dancing guy in the Mighty Mighty Bosstones who just shows up and dances at each of our meetings. We don't need permission, FOR ANYTHING. We're working for free and on our own time.
I'm not the first person to propose a project/group like this, but I think this has legs. As I drive around Milwaukee I see so many small businesses and organizations that could benefit from this kind of exposure and engagement. There are some real humans out there that we can work with and because we're not beholden to the bottom-line and hierarchies of an agency we can get as weird as we want.
It's about collaboration. Let's meet up, drink frosty cold beers, talk about how we can do this and maybe start getting a list together of some prospective clients. Once we have a team assembled, I want to build a website and a mission statement. Then, we walk right up to a prospective client and tell them we're about to do a bunch of work for them for free because we're into what they do, and we're into what we do.
We'll get there after the aforementioned beer drinking and website building.