Be a Great Marketer, Not an Asshole

Marketing is fun—especially digital. This industry is packed with super-talented and passionate people.

However, this fun environment—this talent and passion—creates a unique breeding ground for growing and nurturing assholes. And not your average assholes. All industries have assholes, but ours have some of the worst.

We have the marketing asshole.

The marketing asshole is complex. They’re marketers, which means they’re good at communicating, so their inner asshole is a little harder to see at first. It’s shielded by “innovative ideas” and “profound prose.”

The worst part? It’s easy to get swept up in the culture and not realize you’re acting like an asshole.

So, below are some assholes we seem to come across frequently in our line of work. This will help you spot the assholes, avoid becoming one yourself, and establish protocol for creating an Asshole Free workplace.

The Living in the Past Asshole


Three years ago you had a super successful campaign. It won a ton of awards, you got major recognition, heck, you changed the industry. But, you haven’t done anything since. That was three years ago. Quit living in the past. If you spent half of the brainpower that you spend reminiscing on old times on creating new ideas, you might just have some new successes to be proud of.

The Constant Complaining About Clients & Work Asshole


This is shameful. I get it—you get frustrated, bored, whatever, and lose sight of how fortunate you are. Let me remind you -- many people in the developing world live in absolutely abhorrent conditions. They would sell their soul to write copy introducing a new soap product line aimed at Millennials, while sitting in a ergonomic chair in an air conditioned office, noshing on a bagel, and drinking a latte with fun milk art. What are you complaining about? Keep some perspective and appreciate what you have.

The Part-Time Process Nazi Asshole


When you have a great idea, you become obsessed with it. You beat deadlines, you produce amazing work, you’re unstoppable. But when it’s not your idea, it’s something you don’t want to do. You feel put upon. You search your vast process toolkit until you find a way to slow things down and make people jump through bogus hoops. Really? We’re here to get things done. If it has to be your idea for you to get on board, you’re a special breed of marketing asshole.

The Misunderstood Artist Asshole


Why is this even a thing? Great art is often misunderstood. But you’re a marketer. You’re supposed to be a communicator. If you’re misunderstood, you’ve got a big problem. If the team doesn’t like the concept, or doesn’t get it, A) it probably isn’t that good, or B) you didn’t communicate it properly. Either way, you’re not misunderstood --- you’re just an asshole.

The Too Important to Show up to an Interview on Time Asshole


Just because you have a job, doesn’t mean you should waste other people’s time. If you make a potential hire sit in the lobby for 20 minutes waiting to be interviewed while you pretend to be busy to seem important, you’re an asshole. You’re also making your company look bad and you look ridiculous to your team. And yes – they make fun of you behind your back.

The “I hate Google and Facebook for Changing So Much” Asshole


Picture this: Google and Facebook decide they will forever be exactly as they are now. Two things happen. One, our work gets boring. Two, we’re all out of jobs. Google and Facebook’s pace of change is why clients pay agencies to manage their accounts. Plus, it keeps us active and engaged in learning new things about our industry. Embrace it. Better yet, cherish it.

The Boss that Gets Angry To Make People Work Harder Asshole


People aspire to do great work. Sometimes, great work takes time. More time doesn’t mean people are sitting on their haunches. In reality, it probably means your team is busting their humps to create something amazing and innovative. If creative isn’t there yet, yelling doesn’t help. It creates a hostile environment and stifles creativity. It also screams, “I’m an asshole who can’t manage a team.”

The “I’m Smarter than the Client” Asshole


Assuming clients are stupid labels you a Grade-A asshole. You may be an expert in SEO, responsive design, or the finer art of Instagram posting, but what do you know about activated carbon? Well, your client knows everything about it. We all know a lot, just about different things. Mutual respect is key.

The Industry Jargon Asshole


You say things like, “we need to synergize the entire digital ecosystem across multiple devices” and “this needs to go viral,” so you’ll have something to contribute to meetings. You just attended a conference, right? Maybe you partially paid attention? Maybe someone said something similar at another firm? Maybe try reading an actual book or an entire article, not just the headline to avoid being “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Argh --- I was just this asshole again…

The Deadlines for the Sake of Deadlines Asshole


Organization is great. It can increase productivity and give structure to an otherwise loose, creative environment. But imaginary or push deadlines for your team drop morale and are just stupid. It’s stifling. It keeps people up at night. And it’s a waste of time. Thank you. You just made life more stressful for absolutely no reason.

The On the Phone During a Meeting Asshole


Put your goddamn phone down during a meeting. If someone is presenting a concept or going over a report, don’t pretend you’re more important because you’re a Director or C Level. Everyone’s time matters. Not just yours. And besides being disrespectful to the team, you’re also despised. Not exactly what you were going for most likely….

The Takeaway


So now you’ve seen the most common assholes we encounter in the marketing world. Maybe you even recognized yourself in one or more of these archetypes. I know I did.

Not only am I guilty of most of these behaviors, I partly wrote this post about some of my biggest flaws. I’m not just the co-founder at Nebo, I’m also the Chief Executive Asshole.

It’s easy to get caught up in your successes and your workload. It’s easy to think you’re accomplished and lose sight of some very important things—things like mutual respect, patience, and gratitude.

If we keep the bigger picture in mind, we realize that life is short. Too short. And we spend the majority of our waking hours at work.

According to our internal research, 93% of the team had a negative opinion of assholes. 89% said they would prefer less of them in the workplace. Only 5% aspired to grow their inner asshole so it could reach its full potential.

So let’s do our collective best to tame the worst part of our behavior. Let’s create an environment we actually want to work in. Let’s be the type of people we want to work with. Let’s be great marketers. Let’s be happy.  And, let’s try our best to not be assholes.

Written by Brian Easter on July 16, 2014


Add A Comment
Amy Stage says:

I literally laughed out loud. You've pretty much nailed every negative marketer stereotype. I'm lucky that I don't currently work with any of these assholes, but I have in the past. This is a great article!

Aron - thanks for catching that! You're helpful, not an asshole!

You forgot one: The Grammar Police Asshole. Um, that would be me. By the way, "its" is a possessive, while "it's" is a contraction. Thus, your use of "it's" in your penultimate paragraph needs to lose the apostrophe. See what I mean? Grammar Police Asshole.

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Brian Easter