In today's "always on" 24/7 world, it's easy to forget some occupations were never a 9 to 5 job. This is true for any kind of applied creativity, where you can't simply switch off that part of your brain that makes connections and juxtaposes unlikely things with each other. After all, what is dreaming?
The ad above was written in the 1920s or 1930s by O.B.Winters of Erwin, Wasey & Company and is one of the classic all-time best long copy ads. Ad agencies are not always that great at selling their own wares, but I think this ad says it all - and does a cracking good generic selling job for creative businesses everywhere:
It is after hours and most of the people have gone home. There is a chess game in the office of the production manager and a light still burns in the cashier’s cage. From the outer room comes the untutored click of a typewriter—an office boy is taking the Y.M.C.A. course in advertising. Across the area way a man bends over his desk, writing. A green visor shades his eyes. From his twenty-eighth story window as he glances up from time to time he can look down on the jewelry of lights. It is after hours, but he works on. He will whip his copy into finished form before he leaves. One of the layout men has put his drawing board aside and is going out to the elevators. Under his arm he carries a tissue pad. A new idea is stirring in his mind. It will be roughed out in pencil before morning comes. Six months from now you will feel it tugging at your purse strings.
It is after hours and most of the people have gone home. But out in Bronxville and Great Neck, in London and Paris, in Chicago and San Francisco—in hotel rooms, on Pullman cars, on speeding planes and ocean liners this company’s people are thinking about other people’s businesses, working for men who are all unaware such work is going on. A few hurried notes scrawled on the back of an old envelope tonight may be the key to next year’s most productive advertising campaign. Between the acts at the theatre an idea may come that will make sales history. At home beneath the reading lamp a man may solve a merchandising problem. Once a famous trademark came back from a camping trip.
These are the phases of our service that perhaps not even our own clients have ever thought of before. There is no mention of it in our Terms and Conditions. But all our clients have been the gainer for it and will be many times again. Why such devotion on the part of men who have already given us their day? Of no one here is asked more than he can do. The client does not require it. Again, why? Anyone who deals regularly with men will tell you this is the kind of work that money alone cannot buy. It is work done purely of free will and its real pay is pride in work well done. Those who understand the creative mind will know just what we mean by that. They know that the good workman, in advertising as elsewhere, asks no question save, how well can this be done?
Most of our men turned to this organization because they felt that with us they could approach their work in just that spirit. All of us here hold that good advertising is advertising which is seen, is read and is believed—advertising which makes friends, builds good will—advertising which returns to the advertiser his investment with a profit. To contrive with words and pictures advertising which can do these things is a challenge to men of fine talent and quick imagination who like to write and like to draw. It is not an easy thing to do, and if we have been unusually successful at it, that is because we love the job and have given it our best. The men who write advertisements for the clients of this firm would succeed in any branch of journalism. Some of them have been on university faculties. One has edited a newspaper. Others are contributors to the magazines. They know how to appeal to the public in the printed word. They know how to sell. The men who lay out and design our advertising are men at the top of their profession. They are men who, were they not advertising men, would be well-known illustrators and artists. They know how to catch the public’s eye by picture and design. They know how to sell.
The men in charge of merchandising and contract responsibilities are seasoned business men. One of them headed a great selling organization for many years. They know how to fit the wings of advertising to the fuselage of business. They know how to sell. Research department? Expert media men? Direct advertising department? Merchandising department? Export facilities?—We have them all. We have them all developed to a degree not equaled by any other organization that we know. And these departments are all essential in the rounding out of the service this house has made its own. But quite the finest thing we have to give to those who come to us for counsel is the high enthusiasm of our men and a devotion to their work which is measured neither by the dollar nor the clock.
This, too, was written after hours.
ERWIN, WASEY & COMPANY, INC., Advertising
420 Lexington Avenue, New York
I love the quiet sincerity and the picture that these words paint. And next time I'm slaving away in the wee small hours, I'll read it again.