Pipe Down - Advertising Needs to Embrace its Talented Introverts

Loudmouths. You know the type. People who can't stop themselves piping up, most often about themselves and their ideas.

They seem to have taken over the advertising business, don't they?

The people who seem to be those most willing to pipe-up on anything and everything. The most well-known creatives in the business at the moment seem to be those who are in the trade press most often, mouthing-off about the latest fad or this week's opinion.

We've even heard that some prominent creative directors are paying PR people to do their personal PR. What a crazy business that is.

Time was, a creative, or anyone in the business, would be known for their work. Not their mug or opinion splashed across industry rags or websites day-in, day-out.

I don't remember the great ad people I looked up to when I came into this business spouting on, week-in, week-out in the trade mags. They let their work do the talking.

If your work doesn't speak for you, maybe you need to look at your work, not hire a PR?

I've met plenty of extremely talented and clever people in this business who are also quiet in character, who don't chase publicity for themselves. But too often these people are overlooked in favour of the loudmouths, even if their work is far stronger.

One argument is that these talented people should become better at promoting themselves.

But I don't see why self-promotion should beat talent and hard work in a creative business. Not if you care about quality, at least.

If we want advertising to be a business full of loudmouth self-promotionalists, then sure, we can let things carry on as they are.

(And hey, maybe it's just a coincidence that the PR-hungry loudmouths have risen to the top of advertising at the same time that there's a dearth of great work coming out of the business?)

But here's another thought, maybe it's time we realised that the loudest people don't always have the best ideas, or are the best people to run a department, or a company. Or indeed, not the best spokespeople and figureheads for our business.

Maybe let's try to recognise the quiet and talented. And hear them, and enable them to become the good examples we need?

Just a thought.


  1. I often see creatives and students starting out being given the terrible advice that if they can't successfully self promote, then they can't successfully promote for clients.

    It only takes one look around a typical office to observe there is zero correlation between personal self promotion and effective professional work to dismiss this bit of homespun wisdom.

  2. I agree George. It's true young creatives often have to be resourceful and smart to get a good 'in', and those qualities are useful in advertising people, but there's a difference between self-promotion and being able to come up with great ideas

  3. I remember visiting a Unite event (#5 or #6) and being told there was a performance section, in which students had a minute to 'sell themselves' on stage as well as having their books on show.

    The only memorable couple (ironically) was a pair that came on dressed as clowns, one shot the other dead, then shouted 'are you not entertained!!?'.

    They're now doing quite well at 4Creative.

  4. I always smirk at the fact that this billboard (while nice) has ECD, CD, 2 copywriters and 4 art directors.

  5. Here here from the introvert in the corner.
    There's an interesting book called Quiet by Susan Cain. It talks about the rise of extroverts, and why business needs a balance of both personality types. I (very quietly, of course) gave my previous, extrovert-promoting boss a copy before I left.

  6. I once heard a great (funny) definition of an introvert from a very talented (and rich) person. He said "That I'd rather stay in than take up a party invite and read a book. A book that I'd read before and wasn't very good."


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