Since the time of the first advertisement, somewhere back in 1704, when an announcement seeking a buyer for an Oyster Bay, Long Island, estate, was published in the Boston News-Letter. The human mind has been in a state of ceaseless turmoil. One that could delve into the most complex fathoms of creativity and pull out that one brilliant, golden tagline that would make the consumer “go” for a product. One that would make a product sells more than the next manufacturer’s product. Everyone’s been having a go at everyone else, ever since.
Five Hundred Billion Dollars. Have a read through those four words again. That’s how much the world spends today to be able to take a shot at getting ahead of the next guy. You’d probably fill up this entire line if you had a go at writing that number out. But is that the price for creativity? No. It’s but a price that businesses have to pay because unconsciously, they’re all after the same, utterly elusive finality. The pursuit of perfection.
Where do we even begin? Hundreds of thousands of students every year, apply for advertising and mass communications studies worldwide, even more individuals apply to become designers at various colleges, each of which have advertised themselves to be the best to no end. All of them come out into the mainstream after that college or university giving them a tag, a certificate. A piece of paper saying that they qualify for the position they may get. One in every class, the “best” gets to the top echelons of the industry. But what about the remaining several hundred thousand individuals starting out in the industry also? Who answers for them? Let’s put a question out on the table. What is the definition of “Best?” It’s a superlative. A singular entity only. So how is it that every institution goes flaunting and waving their flags out in the open shamelessly claiming to be the best? It’s extremely disturbing that money buys credibility. It is even more disturbing that those with more financial latitude make a wrap of a majority of almost everything out there. How can we justify the concept, the very essence of marketing as a whole, if we put it on a shelf and slap a sticker on it?
Let’s face it. That is what is happening isn’t it. A ballpark question directed at a majority of players in the market could be “are you really that good?” And if that question ever did come up for the world to answer, how many would actually be left standing? Everyone wants a piece of the pie. Of course they do. Who wouldn’t? But that is not the point. What makes a great artist, sportsman, chef, businessman or any individual for that matter who found his way to the top of his industry? In one absolute word, excellence. It is the root cause for an individual working over a period of time to be as perfect as that individual thinks he or she can be, reaching that stage where the whole world agrees unanimously that he or she is the very best, but in private, finding a calling and working in their solitude to achieve what no one else needs to agree upon or approve. Perfection. The realization of true potential and the ability to put oneself to the task of trying to achieve it. Very few have done it. But the results are there for the world to see. They are remembered as they ought to be. As who they were and by the work they did.
So, is the world spending five hundred billion on the wrong people? Not really. But how many of those settle for less than the best? Is every advertisement as evocative as it ought to be? Does every advertisement or design influence you as deeply as you’d like to be influenced? As an example, one magnificent set of words comes to mind “The world’s most elegant protest against mediocre engineering” campaign for the BMW 733i luxury car that appeared in the ABA journal in March, 1982. To date, it is something that has deeply influenced the way I, as an individual work. That one line was as close to perfect as a human being could have got. It embodied not just the very essence of the campaign it was meant for, but also the very principle on which anything at all, could be founded. A thought process that truly cared for what it was working on. One that could give a valid conclusion to the product it was paid to represent. One that accepted the money for the sole reason of simple, uncomplicated, financial gain for his needs as an individual, and not as a price to purchase his capability for beautiful thought. His work was done right there. He had portrayed the very essence of excellence and a person, sitting on one corner of the globe today, would remember him for his work after all these years and wish he could find out more about that individual, meet him and share some time with a person who had the capability to inspire a free mind with nothing more than the unadulterated beauty and standard of his work. He gave his work its due, because anyone, who read that line and understood where it came from, will be speaking of it. That man’s work will be remembered for a long time to come through the words of those who speak of him to others. The bottom-line is, that man, and his work, will be the stuff of eternity.
How many of us today look to achieve those standards? Honestly? It would require us to take ourselves out of the rat race and indulge ourselves in the beauty of the work we do. It could be anything. Be it design, development, writing, advertising, media, marketing or any field at all. If any individual in any of these fields can stand in front of a mirror, look himself in the eyes knowing he has done what he needs to do to have the world remember him, then he would be at the very beginnings of the pursuit of perfection.