Every morning that I don't teach an 8 o'clock class, there's a good chance you'll find me at Pane Italiano Qualita, the incredible new bakery and cafe in Berkeley.
I've always had more success working on ads and commercials in cafes than I do at my desk, and there's something about PIQ that I like even more than the chocolate croissants, the strong coffee, and the breakfast pizzas: the people who traipse through the place.
Being with what the Dove campaign calls "real people" has always comforted me. PIQ attracts slick millenials, anxious young mamas, sleeveless students and all kinds of other happy, grumpy, busy civilians coming in slightly stressed and leaving with renewed optimism. At least something went right in their day.
I've always seen myself as going through life as sort of a camera, taking in people's looks, their tones of voice, snatches of conversations, public posturing, lover's glances, and everyone's worries. Am I the strong, silent type? No, the advertising creative type.
To be good in advertising and marketing, you have to love people. You have to embrace their vulnerabilities. You have to try to understand how they think. You soon learn there's more to life than just doing it; more to be concerned about than squeezing toilet paper. All of us have real dreams, hopes, and fears. These are the realities that are stronger than most ads and marketing plans.
Claude Hopkins, a successful early advertising copywriter, was asked how he gets ideas. He said he performed his hat trick. He put on his hat and went out to observe people in stores, in restaurants, in their daily lives.
I recommend the hat trick. Any time you need a fresh idea, you'll find it over there --- with your customers. Concentrate on their needs and you'll never go wrong.