When I think of the word ‘typecast’, I think of the actor, Timothy Dalton. See, in my opinion, Timothy Dalton was the worst actor to ever play the role of James Bond. I don’t say this because of the guy’s acting ability. Instead, it’s because I was simply unable to see him as ‘the good guy’. In my mind, I’d seen him in so many movies playing ‘a bad guy’, it just didn’t work for me to see him any other way.
So what’s this got to do with advertising? Well, it happens in advertising, and one of my friends experienced it the other day.
My friend was contacted about the prospect of taking a freelance gig as an art director. However, he didn’t get the job because, while he had experience working in the automotive category, he didn’t have experience working on a particular brand of car. It wasn’t considered, even though he was a senior person in the industry, that he would be able to adapt to the requirements of that particular car brand.
This is interesting because any creative person worth their salt is able to adapt to the requirements of a brand. Isn’t that their job? Sure, those more familiar with it might be able to grasp it a little quicker, but that’s comparable to one actor knowing the lines because he’s been given a copy of the script and the other one hasn’t.
Likewise, last year I had a person ask me if I had any B2B experience. I answered, ‘Yes’, but then reminded them that it was still a person, rather than a business, reading the communication at the other end. I don’t think they liked that.
See, people like to pigeonhole things. They like to give them titles and tuck them away in neat little places.
And when you’re working in advertising, you can get typecast by the type of clients you work on, or by a type of medium or advertising style (e.g. digital, direct, retail etc)
However, in my experience, the best art directors and copywriters aren’t bound by those things. They’re chameleons. They’re like Tom Hanks or Kevin Spacey – able to play any role, and make it their own.