On Disappointment…

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonWell, the charmed streak my beloved Irish enjoyed all season long came to a crushing end last night.

The pundits said we were overrated and they were right. They said we were lucky and they were right too.

Still, hope dies last. Or as the Spartan philosopher Epictetus wrote in his remarkably readable The Enchiridion: “dum spiro, spero”: “While I breathe, I hope.”

Hope is a crucial currency in advertising. In a world of endless pitching, hope keeps you coming back despite the disappointments, the rejections and the outright failures.

But last night’s disappointment wasn’t solely limited to the game. Midway through the first half, a TV spot we produced well over four years ago at the now defunct Element 79 aired for Lay’s potato chips. Which means two things. First, that despite canning all of us at that agency, Frito Lay has yet to find something better and second, those three actresses are positively killing it on residuals. Still, it’s tremendously disappointing and judging by a Facebook post and the comments that followed, the sting of that injustice still rankles.

The only way to deal with disappointment is perspective. It’s always perspective. As a Notre Dame friend of mine posted last night, “Who would have thought we would have a disappointment on January 8th?” We were blessed with an improbably charmed run, and a raft of storylines that warmed the heart and fueled the imagination, with both Notre Dame’s football season and our work on Frito Lay at Element 79. And it ended, as things inevitably do. Now the only proper response for that experience is gratitude.

So despite the sting and the disappointment, I am grateful. For a brief and shining moment, a wonderful group of magical people were center stage at the show.

Today, the hard work of getting back there begins again.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Hope Is Not A Business Plan

How many times have you heard or read that?  In an idea-based industry, some on the business side exert this flat-footed bromide with unhelpful zeal, sure of the immutability of this truth.

And you know what?  It is true, perhaps even immutably.

Yet ironically, while it may not be a plan, hope can certainly be a business asset.  The promise of something better ahead fuels cosmetics, fashion, food, luxury and any number of other categories’ marketing.  obama-hopeWhether conscious or not, we buy certain things to increase our sex appeal, to project a seemlier aesthetic, or even to demonstrate that we are part of a smarter set.  Hope builds brands.  We just inaugurated a President who made hope one of his fundamental platform promises.  Love him, hate him, or plead disinterest all around; among everything else Obama’s election represents, his campaign proved once more that hope can be a genuine motivator to civic engagement.  And thus a good asset for the business of government.

Of course, the challenge of building a business on hope lies in actually delivering results, whether you’re selling a wrinkle cream or a new direction for foreign policy.  We will have to wait and see about that.  And like every consumer of this type of message, we will be hoping for the best.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79