My son was listening to some 70s music, something like Genesis or 10cc, I said “Why are you listening to that crap, we didn’t even like it at the time?”

He said “Dad, you have to understand you lived through a golden period of music, the stuff you considered second-rate is still better than a lot of stuff being done today.”

That stopped me, I hadn’t thought of it like that.

But it’s true, for instance my wife and I don’t discuss advertising in front of our kids.

Cathy is an art director and both our kids work in the business.

We don’t discuss it because we don’t want to make them miserable by talking about how great it used to be.

We lived through a golden period of advertising: Ridley Scott, or Alan Parker, or Hugh Hudson, or Adrian Lynne would shoot our ads.

Ian Dury, or Chas & Dave, or Neil Innes, or Viv Stanshall, or Bobby McFerrin, or Spike Milligan would do our music.

Peter Cook, or Benny Hill, or Harry Enfield, or Griff Rhys Jones, or Paul Hogan, or Leslie Nielsen would star in our ads.

Ken Livingston, or Brian Cox, or John Cooper-Clarke, or Bob Hoskins would do our VOs.

All we had to do was to have a great idea and everyone would move heaven and earth to make it happen.

All anyone cared about: creatives, account people, clients, planners, media, was great ideas.

Whatever it took, as long as it was a great idea, it was worth it.

That’s why I don’t think I could survive in the business today.

It isn’t about great ideas, it’s a conveyor belt.

People don’t expect to see one great idea, they expect to see a dozen average ideas they can flick through and choose from.

And they don’t expect to wait a fortnight while the creatives think about it, they want them alltomorrow so they can see rewrites the day after.

It isn’t about doing something great anymore, it’s about generating a ton of work fast.

Quantity not quality.

None of us would have made it in the conditions creatives have to work in today.

It’s just as well ChatGPT has come along just in time.

Advertising is treating creatives like machines so the best thing is to replace them with actual machines that can crank out trivial work fast.

As I say, the only reason my generation did great work was because of the conditions we had to work in, we couldn’t work in the conditions the kids of today have to work in.

No wonder the work’s crap, it’s treated like crap.

It’s briefed like it’s just something to fill up a space and it won’t make any difference, so don’t argue just do it.

At the great agencies, in London and New York, we used to laugh at the ‘big bad’ agencieswhose work was lazy and dull because their motto was “A sold ad is a good ad”.

Because that was all they cared about, did the client buy it?

So the people working in creative depts don’t need to think, in fact thinking gets in the way, just generate lots of ‘work’ to show the client.

Given all that, it makes sense to replace creative depts with ChatGPT, algorithms that just generate reams of unthinking content faster and cheaper.

And that’s how it will continue, with clients wasting their money on ineffective nonsense.

Just like it was in the 1950s.

Until someone like Bernbach comes along to change things, and the cycle repeats itself.

As George Santayana said, “Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.”