The advertising business — I worked there for fifteen years. Mostly in Hong Kong, but also in Germany and Australia. During that time, I worked a lot of late nights, suffered from stress, and disappointments. Advertising’s a weird business. It can be very frustrating. One day, you’re Don Draper; the next, you’re calling your personnel agent and planning your escape.
But it was also thrilling. In between the late nights and lost weekends, there were some unforgettable experiences: brainstorming with colleagues on ideas; walking out together from successful presentations; winning new business; seeing our work on the screen, the newspapers, the Internet and on giant posters; and watching how the ads helped our clients.
Through it all, I had the pleasure to work with many wonderful people, but also to observe them (and myself) trying to realise their ambitions, often under great stress. That’s when you really get to see the interesting side of the advertising business–to observe people’s character and to watch how talent performs under pressure.
I saw it hundreds of times.
That’s also why I wrote ADLANDIA. There were just too many good stories. Some were real and painful; some were triumphant; some were heartbreaking disasters. And some stories in ADLANDIA are more surreal, based on real events but which take creative leaps into fantasy.
A well-known screenwriter once had a warning for younger writers: don’t ever set your story in an advertising agency; advertising agencies are silly enough as it is.
I disagree…because I’ve been to ADLANDIA and seen it for myself.