Sighing in the Face of Convention

Raise your hand if you consider “conventional” a compliment. If your hand is raised, I have a question for you: why is a Credit Analyst reading this blog post? 

Listen, “conventional” isn’t a bad word. Some of the best ovens and mortgage rates and dentist-recommended flossing methods I know are conventional. But convention has no place at any agency that wants to stay competitive in the relentlessly cutthroat world of advertising (drama, clearly, is still welcome). Here, let’s put it in Ad Nerd terms:

Was thinking small conventional? 

What about thinking different? 

Throwing Isaiah Mustafa on a horse or John Claude Van Damme on a couple of reversing Volvos?

Launching a new world of personal computing with a relatively esoteric literature-meets-tech take on totalitarianism and the collective identity? 

Or Spongmonkeys? Guys, what about Spongmonkeys?!?

Doing conventional work will pay the bills. Ask any partner in any hack agency that gets by by gettin’ by. Being a Yes Man or an “Eh, The Client Won’t Buy That” Guy is surely a cushy way to coast to retirement. But man oh man, it’s gotta be dullsville to willingly feed into the mediocrity machine. 

“Hey Krista, why are you writing about convention in the first place?” you might ask after I have ✨unconventionally ✨ not bothered telling you for the first 200-ish words of this blog. Well, reader, it’s because my agency, Firehouse, has a guiding belief that drives everything we do: Courage in the Face of Convention. 

You know that thing where you get a job and they’re like, “Our Guiding Principle is ‘Synergistically Empowering Accountable Ecosystems’ and you’re like, “Sure, sure, what’s the PTO policy again?” This isn’t that. 

Courage in the Face of Convention is easy to get behind, and pretty simple in theory: it’s pushing yourself to be better, even when it’s easier not to. But, like all things worth pursuing, it’s much more difficult in execution. Because who wants to fight the unconventional fight when you can get away with good enough? 

People who still love this business. That’s who. 

Am I asking that everyone brings Machiavellian “overthrow the status quo,” energy to the table? (I mean, kind of, which is why I get called “fiery” in all my performance reviews.) But you can at least channel George Carlin - another famous Renaissance philosopher - and remind yourself that “the status quo sucks.” 

Of course, if you spend more than a minute on LinkedIn you know the coolest thing about being in advertising is hating everything about it. Disdain is the convention? What a bore. If the convention is slogging through for a paycheck and a superiority complex, call us “unconventional” all day long. 

Cool or uncool, we still love this business. Unabashedly. Vocally. With punctuational swear words, for all its creativity and magic and frustration and excitement and fervor and wonderful stupidity. And, yes, for its lack of convention. Because friend, if that’s not better than a real job, then I don’t know what is.