As I think back on almost thirty years on the creative side of this rollercoaster we like to call Marketing, I am reminded and stirred by those Paul Simon lyrics.

They seem a fitting reminder for those of us creatives who’ve been at it a while, and perhaps pine for days gone by. You know, those who miss the TV shoots on the coast, the lovely long-copy print ads, the month-long deadlines, and the creative awards’ ceremonies. Heck, I used to define myself through the plaques on my wall. But last year I took them all down, and threw them in the dumpster behind the office.

I used to define myself through the plaques on my wall. But last year I took them all down, and threw them in the dumpster behind the office.

Why?

Because they’re meaningless, as was so much of the work that was done to win them. If you’re lucky enough to be on the creative side of marketing now, these truly are the days of miracle and wonder. Our lives can be so much better and more fulfilling than those gone by. We’re (at Cult anyway) getting seats at the boardroom tables of client companies. Contributing to strategy. Helping them drive their businesses at a much more fundamental level. Helping make their products and services better. Helping to give their people more fulfilling roles. Helping them connect with, and engage, customers for life—rather than just at the cash register for the weekend. And we’re using interactive social tools that seem to become more magical and dialogue-inducing with each passing month.

As a Creative Director, the opportunity to write a corporate manifesto that will help shape the way a company does business, and the way its employees think about their jobs every day, is just so much more rewarding than churning out snappy headlines, eating craft services, and receiving some meaningless hardware every year. This is suddenly a worthwhile, meaningful career. We need to reframe our role, to think about things differently. We need to realize that, in this new era, we can be a force for good in our time on this planet. Suddenly, we can make companies better, improve what they offer, enhance the lives of their stakeholders and their customers. We can give them new purpose, make them more remarkable, inspirational, involved and pervasive in the world.

And that’s truly fulfilling and rewarding. Honestly, it feels like going from a job in a hospital call centre, to being one of the surgeons. So don’t waste tears or regrets on how times have changed. They have changed. And they’re actually better now. Better for marketing people, better for clients, and, ultimately, better for the world.

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