What Can We Learn from Pro Wrestling?

a post on Critical Thinking

Pro-wrestling has long been a pariah of intellectuals. And no industry considers itself smarter than the creative world. I say, though, we should not be so quick to judge a wrestler by his banana hammock.

Yes I have a pro-wrestling action figure. A gift from my wife.

11/06/2008 · Dallas, TX · Considering pro-wrestling’s successful tenure, spanning 50 plus years pandering to the lowest common denominators in entertainment, and its ability to continually survive countless attacks volleyed from the trebuchets of polite society, there might yet be a few gems of knowledge that we as marketers, advertisers and creatives can adapt from our more aggressive, muscle-bound, kindred spirits. Such as…

Layeth the Smacketh Down

When it comes to ideas, be brutal. On yourself. On others. If you bring some weak shit into the squared circle, some 400-pound behemoth will quickly be using your face as a seat cushion. And if you are bringing the same tired ideas to each creative session, you should be punished just as severely. Blank stares are not enough. Someone should tell you that your idea is so horribly off base that it makes them consider a swift career change to unprotected, back-alley prostitution in Bangkok. Honest criticism stings, but it is fastest way to getting stronger (besides steroids). And if ill-advised stupidity actually gets presented to a client, then someone deserves a few dozen pile drivers into concrete. While you’re at it, be brutally honest in general. An agency cannot stand to delude itself for long, and just because some scrawny noob thinks he can beat the champ, doesn’t mean he will, which reminds me…

Know Your Role

Go with what brought you to the dance. Don’t change your game plan with every match. Stick to one thing, and be the best at it. Stone Cold Steve Austin never did a back-flip from the top ropes he got drunk and punched his way in to fans’ hearts. And was loved for it. Also, blind contentment is your most formidable foe. Sure, it sounds nice to coast on the status quo, but there is always some one hungrier, and poised to wrap you in the ropes and stomp a mud-hole in your pay check. Keep your eyes open and your work lean. Train constantly to keep up with your competitors. No two fights are the same, and years of experience can only serve to buttress an already strenuous regimen of learning and open-mindedness. When you think you’re on top, you might sooner find your shoulders on the mat.

That’s the Bottom Line, Cuz You Said So

It is always in the clients best interest for you to have a voice. That is what they are paying you for. Of course this takes more tact than this paragraph’s header suggests, but never negate your years of experience, training, and outright talent just to make a client happy. Speak up. Think of yourself and the client as a great tag team, like Degeneration X, each bringing unique talents to the match, and working in tandem to take down even the biggest opponents. Then, when you rake in your multiple awards together, maybe you can cap it off with a nice DX crotch chop. On the flip side: if you cannot offer more to a client than what they ask for, then your client may be better off on their own. At that point, your agency has become a set of hands, and the client can always just underpay an intern for that.

The Best There Is, the Best There Was, the Best There Ever Will Be

Know where you come from, where you are going, and have the toughness to throw your head squarely in the chest of any of today’s challenges that come flying off the ropes. Don’t let your clients passively become the victims of their industries, and even more importantly, don’t rest on your laurels while hungrier creatives decide what you will be ripping off next year. Take charge. Show some testicular fortitude. If you are too afraid to admit fault to your co-workers, then it might be time to retire. If you cower in fear every time a client is concerned, then you do not have the stomach for this business. Nothing is more catastrophic to an agency than a lack of confidence within. While you are at it, cultivate some perspective on industry, culture and the whole of planet earth around you… where it has been, where it is going, and how you can make an impact in the scheme of it all.

Have a Nice Day

Don’t take things too seriously. And for the sake of all that is Hogan, stop bitching. About the client. About your peers. About the industry. Clients know their business well, as should you. So if they are clueless about a typeface decision… that is obviously why they are paying you, and is not a reflection on their aptitude; it only reflects on your success in explaining its importance. Also, if your peers aren’t playing nice with you, it might be because you are a closed-minded prick, and if you just don’t get the industry anymore, it has apparently moved on without you. The only thing that bitching does is make your weaknesses even more apparent. So close your mouth, put on a happy face and go kick some ass. After all, you get paid for those thoughts, so don’t waste them on negativity. In advertising, just like in wrestling, if you can’t have fun with it, then what is the point? It’s not like any of it is real, anyways.