The incident happened sometime last week in an Opebi based ad agency, Lagos. An art director, a guy, was summoned to the office of the HR. A female colleague of his, client service, had earlier reported him to the HR. He was accused of objectifying the female colleague in a jest. The poor chap tried to explain to the HR that it was merely a generalized wisecrack on the creative floor, and it wasn’t directed at anybody in particular. The HR wasn’t impressed. She instructed the art director guy to apologize to the female colleague. The chap, typical of an average art director, bluntly refused. According to him, he couldn’t bring himself to apologize for an offence he didn’t even commit in the first place.
The HR then escalated the matter to the Creative Director. The CD hauled the chap into his office, and behind closed door reprimanded him. Then he called on the supposedly assaulted female colleague to join them in his office. With the three together, the CD then instructed the art director guy to apologize to the client service female colleague. Well, the poor chap lost it at that point.
According to him, he was disappointed in the CD because he felt the CD should know better that wisecracks would always happen on the creative floor, and they very well intend no harm.
The art director guy shot the CD an insubordinate glare, and then served same to the client service lady; then he defiantly walked out on both of them. He got to his desk, sent in a resignation mail with everyone that mattered in copy; cleared up his personal effects, and to the amazement of his creative colleagues, he pitifully walked out of the agency.
Indeed, the above true life incident could have been better handled.
Suffice it to say that it’s quite unfortunate the incident even happened in the first place; it’s essentialto clearly state that, insubordination is not an ideal practice in an office setting, and shouldn’t be condoned. However, with that out of the way, let’s now drive home some simple basic truths.
According to David Kolbusz, Chief Creative Officers at Droga5, “A typical creative department is like a kitchen where ads are being prepared for the consumption of audiences… To expect the creative team not to sometimes be preposterous is to expect a busy kitchen not to emit heat.”
With the above in mind, it becomes glaring that there are some things that naturally come with a typical creative environment. To expect otherwise would be like expecting a busy kitchen not to emit heat.
Besides the fact that a creative studio houses a bunch of quirky, sometimes carefree but open-minded individuals; jokes, pranks, flirts, wisecracks etc., are common features on open-floor offices generally, and not necessarily an exclusive of creative departments. In fact, it’s only natural that when you bring young people (male and female)together in one place, preposterous wisecracks are to be expected. Wisecracks might sometimes be slightly offensive, but on the whole, they intend no severe harm as they’re fun and friskyways of passing away downtimes. Within a creative agency however, wisecracks not only foster team bonding, they equally take pressure off workloads, and during ideation sessions, they could very well serve as icebreakers that’ll eventually get the creative juice in everyone flowing. Also, wisecracks could be therapeutic too.
According to avenerable piece on“Telos of Ideation,” by Robert C. Roberts, he stated that: “What comic relief does to a tensed situation, is what creative relief does to a cranked up creative team.”
In other words, Creative Reliefs are like comic reliefs because they constitute nerve-easing fun.
Now, wouldn’t it be ridiculous if creative relief suddenly becomes a crime in an ad agency?
How else can one analyze the incident that transpired at the Opebi based agency without almost surmising that the whole episode smacked of a vendetta against the poor chap? Maybe, maybe not.
Without necessarily saying female objectifying is right, the big question is, was the allegation harm intended? If yes, how far can one go to prove such beyond any reasonable doubt? And in fact, isn’t what happened at the Opebi based agency a case of my word against yours?
Globally, offices are now becoming less formal, and more of a fun place where employees can truly be themselves, and freely bring out the best from within. It will be quite barbaric if some of our ad agencies keep operating like a boot camp.
… I’m Just Saying.