bleed blog 02 🩸 2022/04/14

Deadlines are fictional. 🦄

I used to take deadlines too seriously.

If someone is about to give birth, an ambulance is needed as soon as possible. If there are no fires or emergencies, the fire department can carry on with their regular day. If it's too dangerous for a plane to take off, passengers and flight crew have no option but to wait until it's safe to fly. The flight crew must suspend their duties and passengers must postpone or cancel their commitments.

In advertising it's difficult to rationalise how urgent a job is. How do you know how critical a task is? Outside of the fact that more money needs to be made. We just accept it when we are told that the client needs this urgently. I mean, when is the best time to infiltrate the minds of consumers? At all times, at any cost.

Deadlines are like ever-present entities or mythical creatures that can torment us at any given time.

Consumers are inundated with messaging, targeting, retargeting and converting, in all phases and market segments - via above the line, below the line, through the line and digital. That means we have the ability to work non-stop if we wanted to. There are always new methods, more efficient techniques and smarter algorithms to employ to reach customers - and never enough time to maximise this potential.

Deadlines are often extended. Even when a job is super urgent and the client is on the verge of taking the work elsewhere. It feels like the only incentive to keep meeting deadlines is the fact we'll get to keep our job. If there are no consistent parameters for deadlines in our industry, then deadlines in advertising may as well not exist. We may as well treat them as fiction.

I've inevitably found a file named similarly to "... V12 Final_Final 2B" at almost every agency I've worked at. This proves that jobs can be postponed, delayed, cancelled and resurrected for no apparent reason.
Image by @Illa_gal

That's why I find it hard to take deadlines seriously - there is very little continuity. Critical jobs can be cancelled at the flip of a switch and similarly, jobs that died with the pitch can all of a sudden be due on Monday at 8:00 AM. Pressure to meet deadlines exists in other industries, but in some industries there are clearer boundaries between work and free time, incentives for performance, rational explanations for the pressure and compensation for extra effort.

I understand that clients pay us a premium for our services but if we have more consistent, measurable and rational guidelines, it will help us distinguish urgent work from ad hoc duties. If this happens I believe the working environment in advertising would be healthier.

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