Monday, July 11, 2011

North of the border and most creative people.

       One of the most beautiful things about the Internet is how it finds nearly-lost people. Some use it to find old sweethearts. I use it to find old art-director partners.

       I knew Paul lived in Toronto and found him not long ago on Linked In. He has his own ad agency there, and still does amazing work. Paul's a brilliant thinker and not afraid to let the brilliance show. He's the one who showed me how good an idea could be.

       Paul's work could be gritty or surrealistic --- just so it hit the audience over the head and made its point unforgettably. He was also a bit of a prankster. I remember the day we almost lost a big oil company account because the advertising manager was convinced Paul and a writer were passing shocking notes about him under the table at lunch...and giggling. Both denied it, but someone must have apologized because all was forgiven.

      We did an ad together for a contest that Time, Inc. was running to demonstrate "The Power of Print" for their magazines.  Our ad was one of the winners; Time published it as a full page in color and our agency sent us to New York to accept our award in a ceremony held in the Rainbow room atop Rockefeller Center. The trophies we received were strange wooden representations of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type.

       Over the years, I've let copies of most of my ads slip through my fingers, but I know exactly where this one is. It's framed in my kitchen. The visual, a blue human eye peering out of a plaster cast of Augustus Caesar, is haunting. Paul created the perfect way to tell our story of how good advertising can crack the shells of people's indifference.

       Paul says he loves social media because it's the most intimate way he's ever found to relate to the target market. I've given this a lot of thought, and of course Paul's right again. It's like being invited into someone's living room and being given a chance to meet their friends. Would you launch into your business pitch right away, or act out your client's TV commercials? Or would you relax and take a moment, get to know everyone, listen closely, and then contribute to the conversation only if you can? Try the first approach and you'll never be invited back. Try the second and you might. Paul knows this well.

       That's today's lesson, if you want one. Truly creative people don't resist change, they embrace it and relish the consequences.

       Which is why I'm grateful I re-discovered Paul.

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