Saturday, December 24, 2011

Some creative ways to be creative.

         One of the biggest challenges in being a creative director at an advertising agency is dealing with all the characters you work with. You have to be creative.

         My friend Norman was probably the best writer I've ever known in the business. He could write anything well, including speeches for clients, for which he was quite in demand. His advertising copy could make you laugh out loud or weep silently. The laughing is easy; the weeping takes real talent.

         Norman, however, was a bit of a contrarian. Ask him to write a long-copy ad and he'd do a campaign with only a headline that remains constant in every ad. Ask him to write short copy and he'd come back with something just short of A Tale of Two Cities. After a while, I stopped giving Norman directions and just prayed I could sell what he wrote.

         Seymour was the opposite. He'd do precisely what you asked --- 20 times over. He'd give you every possible minute variation, and then announce they were all bad and storm out of the room, taking his work with him. You got everything and nothing.

        Shiela was one of my favorites. She always did a good job but took 40 minutes to recite the marketing research, her rationale, and her explanation for rejecting other approaches and strategies. When she got around to her masterpiece, you knew you had to love it or she'd go through everything all over again. Fortunately, she was able to bully clients the same way.

        Daryl was probably the best presenter of ideas that I've ever met. He charmed everybody. You were rooting for him from the minute he started speaking. I asked Daryl what his secret was. I needed to know, because I was always nervous.

        "Just be jaunty," Daryl told me. I tried it out and it worked. "Jaunty" seemed to get me into a performer frame of mind, and reflects a kind of confidence that's contageous. If you ever see me being jaunty, you'll know I'm a little jittery inside and trying to calm down.

        I learned patience from Jerrold, who never could think of anything until four minutes before the meeting, and consistency from Bev, whose answer to everything was two women in the kitchen.

        Dealing with all these folks filled my days, so I always had to do my own creative work after dinner. When there was nobody around I had to be jaunty for.

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