Why Advertising is Exactly Like Rugby League.

On an unseasonably cold March night, I was a few tinnies deep into Thursday Night Football. Melbourne Storm had just snatched victory in the dying seconds to hand Brisbane Broncos their second straight loss.

Reiterating the fact that Brisbane had lost their previous game and also a recent grand final by 1 point, commentator Peter Sterling bluntly stated: “Rugby league is all about surviving disappointment”. The voice inside my head swiftly agreed “Ha — so it’s exactly the same as advertising.”

In life, there are a myriad of ways to be disappointed. Advertising is no different.

Your own bad ideas. Unfavourable feedback to the ideas you dig. Selling in then finally shooting your “shit-hot” concept, only to be let down by below average on-set catering. Disappointment never ever ends. To thrive you need to know how to survive.

By surviving I don’t mean the type usually reserved for those hopelessly lost at sea. I’m talking the type that leads to that new-lease-on-life feeling. These two types of survival produce two very different types of people; the expecting cynic and the blissfully aware. Both know that disappointment is inevitable. Yet only one has the redemptive nature needed to succeed.

Cynicism never works. It’s great at identifying a problem, but will never solve one. It also doesn’t help your career. The last thing you want is to look back and only see a lifetime of mediocre work. You’re not surviving if you’re cynical.

Disappointment should feel great. It means you care. You should actually congratulate yourself for experiencing one of life’s most well-known parables. It should be blissful.

I don’t want to make the notion of achieving bliss through disappointment sound easy because it’s not. It’s incredibly hard. You’ve invested your finite time into something, only to be let down. But that isn’t the point.

The point is, you treat advertising like a game of Rugby League. Every week there’s a goal. If you’re lucky enough, you win. And when you look back at a limited time of relevance — hopefully, it’s been worth it, disappointment and all.