How the World of Advertising is Like a Circus

by Carson Hicks on April 29, 2011

in Just Sayin'

Post image for How the World of Advertising is Like a Circus

I just finished reading the best-selling book, Water for Elephants.  It got me thinking about how much the advertising industry has in common with a circus.  Here are my top reasons:

  • Both are highly creative industries that require true passion from their employees.
  • Sometimes we literally live at work, just like the circus ensemble.
  • Beautifully orchestrated performances aren’t just for the circus – new business pitches require lots of practice and orchestration to make the “performance” come off without a hitch.
  • The performers are a lot like the creative departments of an agency.  The creative department is the sexy, middle-of-the-ring act.
  • Media compares to the conductor of the train (the one that the circus lives on in the book).  The media team strategically selects the best locations for the ads to appear, much like the conductor selects the locations for the city-to-city tour.
  • Great advertising campaigns can transform a company’s image and ability to hit sales goals – so much so that it can seem like magic – just like the circus can transform an empty field into a fantasy land.
  • There is a need for constant training – just like the performers and animals must be trained, so must advertising professionals – especially in the digital space in which the industry is advancing so rapidly that agencies are clamoring to keep up with new technologies.
  • A lot of work goes on behind the scenes. The circus performance is much like the advertising campaign once it’s running – it’s the product of a lot of preparation.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie soon to keep my thoughts going on how I work at a circus.  What a wonderful and exciting industry to be a part of!

Photo by def110

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa Adams Melissa May 3, 2011 at 9:27 am

Carson – this is a great analogy! I’d also extend it to say most client-focused businesses are like a circus, staged performances intended to provide a service — with many, many individuals working in unison to pull it all off! (I also have to say that there are generally a lot of clowns around agencies in particular so once again, what a wonderful and creative analogy!)


Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard May 6, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Your constant training comment is exactly why I love our industry… Having been exclusively in digital for almost 13 years now, I still find myself learning new things every day – and better yet, we’ve been given the great opportunity of literally redefining an industry! Thanks for the write up Carson!


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