A = A. B = B. A + B = ?

Dear students,

This is how partners make you valuable.

They see what you can’t or won’t.









Do not underestimate the human propensity for believing one’s perspective is wider than it is.

The most important place to look is where other people don’t.

In order to make a great ad (or any piece of communication) you must first have something to say.
If you find that something to say in a place other people haven’t looked, what you’ll say will more likely demand attention than will something said by someone who has looked in the same places everyone else has.
Great ads open windows in people where they didn’t think windows could be.

Clothe Yourself in Humility. You’re Not Curing Diseases.

Dear Students,

It is incongruous, I know, for an arrogant prick like myself to urge the valuing of humbleness on you.

But get used to it.

There is much you can learn from people whom failure has taught.

Humility is important. If I may be permitted to say so, humility is the fashizzle.

It is especially valuable to an ad-maker.

Because humilty earns you trust.

With trust you get to do what you want.

Without trust you only get to do what you’re told to do, and you’ll be watched over while you do it. Which sucks. You don’t want even a minute of that.

Good ad-makers understand the value of what they make.

Clients almost never do.

But explaining how important what you do is, although it sounds as if that would be helpful, isn’t ever taken to be by those being explained to. Never. No way. It does not happen.

Says the numbskull who has tried it. More than once.

This is where the advice comes in.

Clothed in arrogance by an appreciation of the value of your contribution you cannot help but earn distrust.

But clothed in a humility that pushes away any sense that what you do is important or difficult or world-changing (even though making good ads is) cannot help but show the client that you see what you do the same way he does.

Which builds trust.

I resisted humility.

My face wore the belief that I could write what others couldn’t.

And it lost me trust.

Put on humility. Lead with it.

It won’t change your work. Just the look in the eyes of the people you show it to.

Next , The Value of Arrogance

What separates agencies who make ads from agencies who make great ads. Part 3

I wrote this parable about the lack of “success” that choosing to be right often brings. Since it seemed to give a different spin on what separates agencies who make ads from those who make great ads  I’ve joined it with the others in a way I hope is helpful to you, dear graduates, as you enter the ad agency business:

 Two knights are given a task by the king: 

“Bring me a stone to make soup from.” 

The first knight goes away but returns in only a few minutes with a ham bone. 

He says, “This will make good soup.” 

The king says, “That is not a stone.” 

“Well of course it’s not a stone,” the knight argues, “Who makes soup out of a stone when they can have soup made out of a ham bone?” 

The king says, “Put him in the dungeon.” 

The second knight also goes away. 

After many days of eating and drinking and traveling at the king’s expense, he returns with a thousand drawings of a thousand different stones. 

“Which of these beautiful stones do you wish me to bring you to make soup from?” the knight asks. 

There is delighted murmuring from the king and from his court. 

“Give this knight a chest of gold” says the king, “and take the drawings to the Queen that she may choose which stone suits.” 

                                                               Moral of the story:

Doing what you know to be right is always right. But so is following orders.

Welcome to the conundrum.  It’s a simple dance, complicated by people. You’ll love it.

What separates agencies who make ads from agencies who make great ads. Part 2.

It struck me in reading over the 1st part of this post that I’d described something–found insight–but not given an example of it in action. The admaker with the best story I’ve heard about the value of found insight is someone I know who was also nice enough to write the story out:  
“In the late 90’s, Tiger Woods was winning so often it seemed like everyone else on the PGA Tour was showing up to compete for 2nd place. And Tiger was a golf Terminator–all fist pumps and intensity. Nike asked us to show another side of Tiger. A more human side.
We developed a spot called Driving Range. A simple story of Tiger on a range with average golfers who begin mimicking Tiger’s swing resulting in a ballet of perfect golf — until Tiger leaves and everyone reverts back to slices and duck hooks. We asked Lasse Hallstrom to direct. During a break in filming, we saw Tiger bouncing a golf ball on the head of his driver. Cast and crew loved it. It was amazing — and fun — to watch. We thought it would be a nice thing to put on film and show at a sales meeting. So we put Tiger in next year’s apparel and shot it during the lunch break.
I remember walking up to video village after we finished with my partner Chuck McBride and looking at playback. It was obvious this was more than a meeting toy. It was something we had found that did a better job of making Tiger human than the commercial we were shooting.
Everybody remembers Hackeysack. Nobody remembers Driving Range .”
 -Hal Curtis, Creative Director, Wieden & Kennedy