Do you have to suffer for your ads?

Advertising is known for its long hours culture, where creatives give their all to their clients. But does it really have to be so painful?

The tortured artist is a cliché that any of us who work in a creative capacity will be all too familiar with. Many a creative genius has used their pain as the source for or the drive behind their creations; occasionally we can go so far as to say that the pain is the foundation of what makes their work so arresting. And even if the content of your work is cheerful, its development may be painful, filled with long hours and the rejection of ideas. But does agony have to be a necessary evil of the creative process?

The creative pain found within advertising agencies often comes from the very practical reality of trying to achieve the aims of the client and marry this with making innovative work. And then there is the literal pain from burnout, anxiety, stagnation and the all-work-no-play culture that can be found at varying degrees within different organisations.

Eric Quennoy, ECD at Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, agrees that pain is sometimes an essential component of reaching the end goal of ‘good’ work. “I can definitively vouch for the pain that exists in the creation [of good work],” he says. “It will always be a by-product of the sweat and toil required to get to great ideas and the push and fight required to keep those ideas alive every step of the way.”