Advertising as a sport


“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”

That was said by Vince Lombardi. He was talking about American football, but the meaning of the quote could go way beyond that. Sport is many things; competition, business, entertainment. For me, it’s an inspirator as well.

Athletes work in a competitive industry, but they’re not the only ones. If they can train every day to become better, why can’t we?

The comparison doesn’t just end there. It’s about the whole mindset, to see yourself as an athlete. And as Lombardi said; “the difference is the presence of will.”

When I listed seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher in my list of inspirators on Facebook, it wasn’t because of the success he had, it was because of the way he achieved it. During 1991, his debut year in the sports, he realised that there was a lot to gain by simply doing a bit more than his competitors. And that made a huge difference.

With a better fitness regime and a better diet, Schumacher had superior concentration during the race, especially throughout the ending laps. While others racing drivers where exhausted and merely trying to get to the finish, Schumacher was still able to still discuss the strategy and change it accordingly to the situation. And while others left the track directly after the race, Schumacher stayed in the garage to debrief with the team, to learn what could be improved for the next race.

Now in 2011, this is the new standard in F1, and many other sports have their level of competitiveness raised as well. Athletes, if they want to win, can’t have any shortcomings. But many professionals outside sports still don’t realise that ‘training’ and ‘preparation’ applies to the competitors of their industry as well.

Adjusting a diet for something else than losing weight isn’t weird. There are certain foods out their, such as salmon and walnuts, that are beneficially to your brain. You want to have an advantage over your competition? Start looking at your food, and stop drinking that Red Bull.

And what athletes understand is renewal. We creatives are sometimes running from deadline to deadline, and drinking coffee to keep going, or at least upholding that illusion. You never see that in sports; athletes rest. Football matches aren’t played each day, but why are our pitches? 

I see our industry as one big international league, only with agencies instead of clubs, and creatives instead of players. Most of us have a team we want to play for, and we’re all competing against each other; agencies against agencies, and individuals against individuals.

My last resemblance to sport is that even solo-athletes like Roger Federer have a whole crew around them. Sport is always about a team, and our industry is no different. That account director, that receptionist – they’re both on your team.

I take great inspiration from sports, as a small voice in my head hounds me like Drew ‘Bundini’ Brown:
“You didn’t try hard enough. You could have changed that. You must become better.’

It never stops. But the point is this;
I love that voice.