Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Living the rich inner life.

         My friend Noemi in Detroit tells me I have a rich inner life. She was born in Hungary during World War II, and her insights are always worth listening to.

         "What's a rich inner life?" I asked her. "All those thoughts and worries and conversations you have in your head", she would say. "You're always either amusing yourself or arguing with yourself."

          I think Noemi was talking about the same thing my lawyer-friend Sy was when he told me one day over spaghetti, "You'd make a great attorney. You think of every contingency".

          Deep down I'm sure this came from a pretty screwed up childhood, which really got me thinking. I also think this "rich inner life" stuff made me a better advertising agency creative director. For TV commercials, I can hear the voices and dialects before I write them down. For print ads, I can sense the humor in situations, with different tones of voice.

          That's why I tell my students to tune in on every conversation they hear. It's all input for advertising. So are the comedians at the comedy clubs, the announcers doing baseball games, waitresses, bartenders, hairstylists, grumpy bank tellers, overworked cops, and psychiatrists on TV shows or in person. Try to replay the conversations in your head, and when you do, exaggerate them. Make them funnier. Add a fictitious person to the mix --- a private eye, a circus clown, a shy math teacher, an obedience trainer for dogs.

          All this will give you new material for advertising. Imagine finding yourself seated next to George Washington at Starbucks. What would you guys talk about?

          I guess what I'm saying is let your subconscious get a little closer to the surface. Let yourself go. Do an outrageous ad now and then...before you come back to reality.

         That's why advertising can be so much fun. Every assignment is a puzzle that can be solved a hundred different ways.

          Put your rich inner life on paper.

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