Inspiration: Interesting Designs

Sometimes I feel like I don't give the art directors and designers enough love. Me and all my words. Ugh. Here's a post just for you art, type and visual loving folks. 


Things to stop doing. Immediately.

As I was looking at these ads I kept hearing Seth and Amy in the background going "Really?!"

The problem is, I also see a lot of this in student books.

Stop it.

Stop being shocking for the sake of being shocking.
Stop talking about sex, making sexual innuendos or douchey penis jokes.
Stop doing ads for products that don't need more ads (like Nike) or that are too easy/niche/random (like the Korean-Jamaican-Lebanese restaurant on your block).
Stop using Hitler in your ads. This also goes for snow globes.
Stop relying on borrowed interest.

Just stop it. 

 In portfolio school we had a quarterly awards show called the Baddies. It's were we featured and celebrated the worst work we'd done that quarter and had shots of Jameson to cover up the shame.

Like I said before: Don't Benetton Your Book. Get all that garbage out of your system now and keep your book smart, strategic and creative.

Check out (and vote for your favs) of The Chip Shop Awards

Two Reasons I Got into Advertising

Love is the first reason, of course.

When I was back home for the holidays, one of my mother's friends asked me what I do for a living. Then she said "Probably something that involves writing and talking."

Yup. That sums it up.

Reason number two can be best expressed by some of the award-winning work at the One Show Interactive this year.

Being able to do things like this

or this

Annoy Your Coworkers

Creative office etiquette is an interesting thing.

We're encouraged to be free-flowing and funky, and the rules are a little looser in an ad agency -- but there is still a point where too much is too much.

For the most part, we sit in open spaces with half or no walls. I've been in offices with Wiis, X-boxes, foosball tables, pool tables, bars, graffiti walls and one strange place that had a shower in every bathroom stall.

However, no matter how fun the place looks, we're business people. And you have to remember that (contrary to everything your Mom's ever told you) you are not the center of the world. So pipe down and keep it together.

Here is a small list of Things My Coworkers Do To Annoy Me (And you shouldn't do to anyone else. Or else.)

1. Play their obnoxious loud music on their shitty Macbook speakers. I don't care how awesome that band is or how much you love this song -- I'm trying to concentrate/have a client call/have to come up with an amazing idea in 2 hours and you're throwing me off.

2. Start convos with me while my headphones are in. And then get mad that I don't hear them. Um, hey buddy... I'm staring at a tiny screen with these little buds in my ear. It may look like I'm focused and being productive because I am. So if you need to talk, signal to me and wait until I take out my earbuds or better yet -- just email or IM me.

3. Have loud phone conversations. Either put it on speaker so I can be fully involved with your argument with your wife or the exciting details of your sister's wedding or use your inside voice. If you have no inside voice, trying going outside.

4. Interrupt my ad hoc meeting or concepting session. If the building's not on fire or Tina Fey's not in the lobby, then whatever you have to say can wait until I'm done with the business at hand.

5. Come to work all gross and sick. I mean, come on! Have a little respect for yourself - or better yet - for me. I know you have stuff to get done, but so do I and how is anything going to get done if we're all home sick? Do everyone a favour and keep your nasty germs to yourself and work from home. Or here's a crazy thought - take a sick day, rest up, get better and come back to work when you're 100%.

Maybe it's just me.

I can be particular and according to my friends "difficult" but while I love fun as much as the average bear, I also have work to do and when it comes to your interruptions and distractions, my friend Sweet Brown says it best :

So here's my office advice Creative Wannabes 
Be considerate.
Don't be an asshole.
Respect the work space.
Respect your coworkers.

(However if it's  after 3pm on a slow Friday and you wanted to annoy them, always does it for me)

Go Art Director Go & Other Thoughts about ADs

Meet the makers of Go Art Director Go! a tongue-in-cheek celebration of art directors or "words of encouragement from copywriters" as they put it.

Chris Baker, a 6th quarter Copywriter, and WillBenham, a 7th quarter CW, both at the Creative Circus, launched this site a few months ago. It initially started out as just a joke but within 24 hours, it took off across the Internet. (Oh Internet, how I love thee)

The site was solidified during a late night Chik-fil-A run and has turned into a viral sensation they can both put in their books. Plus – it doesn’t hurt to have your name out there. They were able to earn internships at Crispin Porter + Bugusky this summer!

Here’s an interview with the pair on why they went to Portfolio School and how they feel about working with art directors.

Why did you decide to go to portfolio school:

Chris: Mad Men. Cheesy, I know. It had never clicked in my mind that somebody made ads for a living. So I audited an intro to creative advertising class and fell in love with it.

Will: I did an internship with a small agency in Decatur, GA and my boss told me if I was serious about being a copywriter that Creative Circus was where I needed to be. For some reason thought making a book was for suckers. I tried to land a job without a portfolio and surprisingly no agencies wanted me based on good looks alone.

What are some your favourite things about working with an art director?

1.     How different the brain of an AD is when compared to that of a copywriter. They see things I’d never think of. Ever.
2. When it starts clicking and ideas are flowing – it’s as close to a jazz jam session as I’ll ever come.
3. They dress better than I do.
4. They laugh at my jokes sometimes.
5. I see the world differently now because of them. I’ve started looking at logos and kerning and everything. It’s crazy.

1. They use fancy words like “grid” and “color theory”.
2. They force me to edit myself to a reasonable length.
3. Whenever I feel like I’m overwhelmed I can just look at their to-do list and know that I can handle mine just fine.

What are your 5 least favourite things about working with an AD?

1. Sometimes there is a disagreement as to copy size.
2. They make me watch movies where the visuals are great but there’s no story. And they’ll want to know if I liked it. No, I didn’t fucking like it. I just stared at a moving painting for two hours.

1. When our different brains don’t find that happy place and we’re just throwing ideas at each other and nothing works.
2. Their disdain for the written word.

Will: When I get frustrated with a partner I just try to remind myself that what makes us different makes us stronger. And I remember that without them I would just have words on paper written in what appears to be a third grader’s handwriting.

Chris: What Will said. It’s absolutely true. From what my fledgling and naive mind can tell it’s an exciting, passionate, and often times infuriating business. And I’m ready to dive in headfirst with whatever wonderful AD I get paired up with.

Art & Corny

Plug in your headphones and enjoy this short film about Cornelius Trunchpole, an real-life ad man from the 60s (Move over Draper) who is touted as being one of the inventors of modern advertising.

The film premiered last week and features some of the modern-day big names (Jeff Goody, Gerry Graf, Steve Hayden to name a few) discussing how Trunchpole inspired and influenced them.

My fav part was this quote in the beginning:

Advertising is the art of making whole lies out of half truths. – Edgar A. Shoaff

Be sure to watch it to the end. Inspiration (and admiration) awaits you.

Make People Remember You

Remember when I said "I don't remember you"? And asked What's So Special About you?

I wasn't doing it to be mean. I really want to help you.

Part of being hired is being memorable.
Part of the interview is showing your personality.

Be someone people want to work with. Be yourself. Be memorable.

We're in graduation season so there's about to be 50 billion creative wannabes out there trying to get the 23 jobs that are available.

Having a good book isn't all it takes.
Having good connections (start networking, emailing and meeting people asap) and having a memorable personality will help even more.

After a while you all start to look and sound the same.

Trust me when I say there are about 45 other guys with beards, tattoos and chucks out there. There are about 37 girls with hair dyed a random colour, oversized dark-rimmed glasses and way too many accessories for one person. And about 634 people who are "hard working", "enthuiastic" and "ready for the real world."


Here's an article with some tips you should start implementing yesterday.

6 Habits of Truly Memorable People

How to stick out in the minds of your colleagues and customers--no gimmicks required.

In order to succeed, almost everyone—whether business owner or employee—must be memorable.

While you don't have to be The Most Interesting Man in the World, being known is one of the main goals of marketing, advertising, and personal branding.

Out of sight is out of mind, and out of mind is out of business.

But if your only goal is to be known for professional reasons, you're missing out. People who are memorable for the right reasons also live a richer, fuller, and more satisfying life. Win-win!

So forget the flashy business cards and personal value propositions and idiosyncratic clothing choices.

Here's how to be more memorable—and have a lot more fun.

1. Don't see. Do.

Can you speak intelligently about how clothing provides a window into the inner lives of Mad Men characters? Do you find yourself arguing about how the degree of depth lost in the Game of Thrones TV series as compared to the books?

Anyone can share opinions about movies or TV or even (I'll grudgingly admit) books. That's why opinions are quickly forgotten. What you say isn't interesting; what you do is interesting.
Spend your life doing instead of watching. Cool things will happen. Cool things are a lot more interesting and a lot more memorable.

That's especially true when you...

2. Do something unusual.

Draw a circle and put all your "stuff" in it. Your circle will look a lot like everyone else's: Everyone works, everyone has a family, everyone has homes and cars and clothes....

We like to think we're unique, but roughly speaking we're all the same, and similar isn't memorable.
So occasionally do something different. Backpack to the next town just to see how many people stop to offer you a ride. (Don't take them up on it, though. Unless you appear to be in distress, the people who want to give you a ride are the last people you want to ride with.) Try to hike/scramble to the top of a nearby mountain no one climbs. (Trust me; take water.) Compete with your daughter to see who can swim the most laps in three hours. (If you live in my house you'll lose. Badly.)

Or work from a coffee shop one day just to see what you learn about other people... and about yourself.

Whatever you do, the less productive and sensible it is, the better. Your goal isn't to accomplish something worthwhile; the goal is to collect experiences.

Experiences, especially unusual experiences, make your life a lot richer and way more interesting. You can even...

3. Embark on a worthless mission.

You're incredibly focused, consistently on point, and relentlessly efficient.

You're also really, really boring.

Remember when you were young and followed stupid ideas to their illogical conclusions? Road trips, failing the cinnamon challenge, trying to eat six saltine crackers in one minute without water... you dined out on those stories for years.

Going on "missions," however pointless and inconvenient, was fun. In fact the more pointless the more fun you had, because missions are about the ride, not the destination.

So do something, just once, that adults no longer do. Drive eight hours to see a band. Buy your seafood at the dock. Or do something no one else thinks of doing. Ride along with a policeman on a Friday night (it's the king of all eye-opening experiences.)

Pick something it doesn't make sense to do a certain way and do it that way. You'll remember it forever—and so will other people.

4. Embrace a cause.

People care about—and remember—people who care. When you stand for something you stand apart.

5. Let other people spread the word.

People who brag are not remembered for what they've done; they're remembered for the fact they brag.
Do good things and other people will find out. The less you say, the more people remember.

6. Get over yourself.

Most of the time your professional life is like a hamster wheel of resume or C.V. padding: You avoid all possibility of failure while maximizing the odds of success in order to ensure your achievement graph climbs up and up and up.

Inevitably, that approach starts to extend to your personal life too.

So you run... but you won't enter a race because you don't want to finish at the back of the pack. You sing... but you won't share a mic in a friend's band because you're no Adele. You'll sponsor the employee softball team but you won't play because you're not very good.
Personally and professionally, you feel compelled to maintain your all-knowing, all-achieving, all conquering image.

And you're not a person. You're a resume.

Stop trying to seem perfect. Accept your faults. Make mistakes. Hang yourself out there. Try and fail.
Then be gracious when you fail.

When you do, people will definitely remember you because people who are willing to fail are rare... and because people who display grace and humility, especially in the face of defeat, are incredibly rare.

Friday Treat: 20 Most Viral Ads thus far

First off let me just say that you don't "make a viral video." You make a video and people watch it, share it, it gathers buzz and voila - it's viral. So whatever you make, make it great. Or else it won't go viral.

Secondly -- thank Oprah it's Friday. This week was a beast.

On to the fun stuff.

Here's my recent fav that I hope makes the list soon (so wish I came up with this.)

The 20 Most Viral Ads of 2012 
From Viral Video Chart via AdFreak

If your boss or prof catches you watching these, just tell them it's research or that you're hunting inspiration. You can't go wrong.

Inspiration: Enjoying NY as a Creative

Yesterday I met some young strategists from VCU who were considering moving to New York. I recommended they go out for a day, get lost and then decide if they could handle living here.

Being lost within this hustle and bullshit is THE WORST. But if you're lucky, you'll realise a few things - people aren't that rude, the city is on a grid so once you know where West and Uptown are you can figure most things out, and if you stare at a subway map long enough you'll get dizzy.

"This city is awful, but I love it." Was my closing remark. And seriously, I'm a full-out cliche: I heart NY.

It's the most alive and inspiring place I've every lived -- and I've been around. While it's loud, dirty and full of itself, New York is one of the best places for creative people. It's so random and irreverent and wide open for exploration and creation.

Whether you're coming to visit or just looking for some new vantage points, here are some places to spend a few hours inspiration hunting

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Go any day but it's free on the first Saturday. Plus there's a block party, talks, tours, performances and more.

MoMa (Museum of Modern Art)
11 West 53rd Street
It's free on Fridays and has some of the coolest exhibitions of modern art, films and great giftstore.

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue
Great collection of mixed media - paintings, photos, installations, videos, etc. They're currently hosting their Biennial - an international art show

Here's a whole listing of when other museums have free admission (But if you can manage to donate $5 or so, do it. Don't be an asshole. Support the arts.)

The Highline
Above 10th ave and 14th st and upwards
Public park along old railroad tracks. Great views of the city. Also sometimes has art installations.

The Cloisters
99 Margaret Corbin Drive
A museum and garden with art and architecture from medieval Europe.

Brooklyn Bridge Park
Pier 6, Pier 1, Empire Fulton Ferry, Main Street
Walk the Bk bridge, take the ferry, take the train or bike there. It's along the water with great open space.

Check out TimeOut's 10 Best Parks

Washington Square Park
 5th Ave and Waverly, West 4th and Thompson.
Lots to observe: musicians playing, old men playing chess and people playing in the empty water fountain.
Google Maps Info

Union Square Park
E 14th St and Broadway
There are little vendors, skate boarders, performers, a green market and a dog park. Grab a snack from Whole Foods and just sit and watch humans interact.

Williamsburg Waterfront
110 Kent Ave (L to Bedford)
Hippies, yuppies, buppies, weirdos, hipsters and two or three normal people. Oh and there are concerts during the summer.

Avoid Times Square, Herald Square

Article: Making It: Thick Skin Required

So proud to see one of my readers writing! Here's some great advice from an aspiring CW on what he saw and learned at Creative Week.

If you have any great blog posts you'd like to share, email to me and let's make it happen.

By Bennett Bennett

Dear ADspirants,

Creative Week is real.

Real, like, the ish in rap songs. The events that I’ve attended, the people that I’ve met, the things that I can see myself doing…it’s all great. That being said, a very large, “Thank you!” goes out to Tiffany Edwards and Chavonne Hodges-Brown of The One Club. I helped them out on Monday’s Portfolio Reviews, and stopped by to watch the panel discussion based off of the new advertising book, My First Time by Phil Growick.

It’s moments like Monday and Tuesday that made me want to change course with this letter to you.

I saw a lot over the past two days. 

Beautiful, eye-catching, effective ads made by students. Successful, young, hip, whimsical creatives. When these two forces collided for the reviews, it wasn’t the best. There were the aggressive portfolio kids, who’d take five, maybe six reviews at a time. Then there were the ones who tried playing by the rules and succeeded in making an impression with professionals.

Finally – and I really hope to not end up in this category when I make my portfolio – I saw those that suffered. Not by the physical fatigue of waiting for their appointed time. But by the emotional drain of traveling long-distance, waiting for hours for an agency recruiter to check out their books – traditional and virtual – and possibly offer them an interview.

Better still: 

A position as a copywriter, art director, designer, or on the creative team.

My heart went out to those that had to wait until the end to have their spec ads seen, especially since there was legitimate talent and wonderful personalities to go with it. I hope you know, if you read this, that I want y’all to make it. 

The industry needs that. 

Keep pushing.

In other news, as real as the talent was, there was rejection even more real: 

The fear, the process, and the aftermath of it. 

Let me tell you a story for each.

1). The Ambitious Designer: She was on edge for hours. 

Traditional portfolio in a briefcase, high resolution packaging designs, speculative (fake) ads, and other works of graphic design. We had chopped it up for a bit, and she was legitimately scared. She had a skill set in graphic design. She was studying graphic design at Temple’s Tyler School of Art. Sweetheart, I tell you. She pushed her glasses up a little bit and told me that she wasn’t sure what to expect. 

Someone had stolen her appointed time slot with a recruiter.

She hadn’t had an appointment before then.

The review session was almost over.

And she was stuck with me trying to calm her down.

She wanted to make it. Her graduation is merely weeks away. Her dreams were as vast as the ideas in her book. One day, she’ll have her agency. Her sister was already a copywriter, so why not chase that dream?

Her fears were just as big. 

She didn’t know if advertising was the it in her life. She left for 20 minutes to have her portfolio reviewed, and I walked around. You could see the optimism and frustration shuffle around the floor of Eyebeam in Chelsea. Some were satisfied with meeting dope designers to shape their copy. Others – the ones who felt rear-ended by the whole experienced – looked at me, spoke their minds, and kept it moving.

That’s me in a year.

She came back. Proud that she got through this first review, but torn between wanting to try another review and heading back to campus. I suggested a second opinion. It wouldn’t hurt. Athletes do it. The kids from the Circus, the Brandcenter, Texas Creative…they do this all the time. They’re trained to be rejected. We all need to be. And if I felt she was good enough (and still do – wait, my opinion shouldn’t count for anything!), so someone out there would hopefully would see the same thing – and if not, simply deliver some constructive criticism. 

She’s got great ideas.

All in all, I can say this: 

People drop money to have their stuff checked out by the best of the best. 

Make it worth it. 

2). Generational Top Dogs –Everyone has a first time.
  • Jimmy Smith, CEO and CCO of Amusement Park Entertainment 
  • David Baldwin, Lead Guitar at Baldwin& 
  • Greg DiNoto, CCO at Deutsch 
  • Ted Royer, ECD at Droga5
  • Rob Rasmussen, CCO at Tribal DDB

They started at our level. They made it. And they maintained it – to the point that they now run it.

Each of these “mad men” spoke on their first ads, failures, successes, and lessons learned.

Most of these men started out in the late 70s or early 80s. Who knows rejection better than they do? For example, Jimmy Smith, one of the top black executives in the industry, recounted his first job at Burrell – and his journey to get his commercial for McDonalds aired. Leo Burnett got wind of it, and criticized it for being targeted for a general audience. When asked how they could make it “black”, he replied:

“A black man wrote the ad.” 

Amid the laughter in the crowd, there was that uneasy feeling in my gut: Is it still difficult for blacks, not only as consumers, but as professionals in the industry?

On rejecting others, Ted Royer recounted his travel to Miami Ad School to teach for a week. He ripped a hole in one student’s work, only to get a call from her once he returned. 

“I’ll prove you wrong!” was her reaction. 

Turns out, she’s a respected associate creative director now.

Two notes to take into consideration: 

David Baldwin admitting that if younger him was trying to make it today, it’d be difficult with all the portfolios out there. DiNoto and Smith chimed in that portfolio school books tend to end up cookie-cutter.

Smith added: 

“I never graduated college. I was a few credits short.” 

Didn’t stop him from making impact. 

“Non-portfolio students have that advantage of not being drawn into making what everyone else makes.”

Pros and cons, pros and cons.

3). The Teammate –I’m not the only writer that I know that wants to make it. 

A classmate – a good buddy of mine and a truly prolific wordsmith – told me that she admires my drive.

I laughed it off. 

“I’m not there yet.”

“But you know what you want. All I wanna do is write.”

“And that’s not what I wanna do?”

“True,” she said. She sat up on the maroon and pine couch that we sat on. “But you have that plan. You know what you want to do and you’re going out to do it.”

“But I’m not there yet.” 

It’s that truth that has me writing to you. All of you. We’re not portfolio kids. We’d just been telling stories for years. She’d been surrounded by customers who work in the industry, but didn’t know how to work up enough chutzpah to talk to them. I came off as friendly – approachable, even – knowing enough of how to handle myself.

Mind you, I have no phone – and limited access to social media. 


I apologize for missing your texts.

I’m here, though, aren’t I? And my struggle is hers. And the shared struggle of my classmates’, and those non-portfolio kids (I need a fancier name for them, by the way). We have jobs, families, struggles, and fears that we won’t make it 
because we don’t have that edge.

Guess what? 

We do have an edge. 

We have our stories – not just the written ones that my classmate and I pour out on Tumblr. We’ve been students of the game from the first time the news went to commercial, the first time we turned the page to a high-concept fashion ad. 

We breathe it. 

No, better:

We drown in it. 

And our goal is to be life rafts for society. 

No, not even: 

We wanna sell life rafts to society. 

Make them “have it their way”.

Make them feel as smart, as informed, and as savvy as we want them to be.

First, we have to get over our fears – and do what it takes while keeping what it is that makes us great. I’m not the best out there, but my ambition may get me far enough to get people at events to remember my name.

Then again, my name just sticks out.

But I want it. 

And I’m willing to do what it takes. 

You need to as well. 

Rejection will come – and the pain that comes with it is inevitable. It’s up to us to shake it all off and keep moving.

I’ll end it with this quote by one William Bernbach: 
“The men who are going to be in business tomorrow are the men who understand that the future, as always, belongs to the brave.

Let’s make it happen.

Article: Get Headhunted or Fired

Enjoy these words from a great ad man (who worked on one of my fav spots ever - Nike "Tag")

"I Either Get Headhunted Or Fired": How A Real Mad Man Creates Work That People Line Up To See

From Fast Company
 BY David Zax | 05-09-2012 | 2:35 PM
A chat with Kash Sree, the most restless creative director in advertising.

Kash Sree’s career on the creative side of advertising spans over two decades, and includes iconic spots you’re sure to have seen, including that one where Tiger Woods plays hacky sack with a golf ball. Fast Company caught up with Sree to talk about martial arts, self-loathing, and how marketing is the new religion.

FAST COMPANY: You recently left SS+K, where you were creative director. Care to comment on why?
KASH SREE: It was just one of those things where we had different ideas of how to get to the next stage, and in the end, you get outvoted.

What’s next for you?
I’m sort of resting, because it was the hardest job I ever had. And I’m thinking about opening up my own shop, or taking another job, but if I take another job, I’m going to be a lot slower about choosing.

You’ve already had a long career in advertising, spanning back to the early '90s. What are you most proud of?
I tend not to be proud of anything I’ve done. I tend to pick holes in the stuff I‘ve done. But the stuff I’ve done that’s best known is probably the Nike Play campaign, where we were shifting the emphases away from on-field performance to the idea that everyone is an athlete.

If something came to me and said, “Make Vaseline exciting,” I’d draw a blank.
We also did a repositioning campaign for Vaseline, five or six years ago. Vaseline was dive-bombing, and we said, “Stop trying to compete with fashion brands and just say what you are. People are interested in skin.” You find truths. Their weakness was their strength: They missed the beauty market. We said, let’s make out like we didn’t notice it because we were too busy being fascinated by skin.

It’s impossible to be layperson talking to a creative director and not think of Mad Men. What do you think of that show’s portrayal of your job?
It’s actually surprisingly accurate. Apart from the going out and socializing with people, which I’m terrible at. The agency politics is still very true, though some of the sexism has changed, thank God, and the drinking on the job, though less so. I don’t think the business has changed that much at all.

Another of your most famous ads is called “Hacky Sack,” though it doesn’t involve a literal hacky sack.
We were shooting in a driving range in Hawaii, where we’d gone to shoot about seven other golf commercials. During lunch break, Tiger was doing it. We just said, “Can you do that for 30 seconds? Can you do it behind your back? Can you swat it at the end like a baseball?” He did it in four takes. We didn’t get permission for filming it, we just said, “Let’s just try it.” We shot it during the lunch break.

It was spec work, then.
Often the best work is, because it’s not overthought.

Have you ever wanted to burst out of the 30-second box and write something a lot longer, like a feature film?
All the time, and luckily, now’s the time to do it. Because not everything is on TV, and it’s now an engagement model, you can tell your story in as much time as you want, depending on how long you can keep their attention. You can do it, and you can do it without leaving advertising--you don’t even have to say, “Oh, I have this film script in my drawer,” though I do have one of those.

What’s it about?
It goes back to my days in martial arts. The character starts seeing ghosts and shit like that... It’s very complicated.

You’ve cited Bruce Lee as an influence. How many times have you seen Enter the Dragon by now?
Fifty-seven times. There was a time when I knew every single word in the movie. It’s quite sad.

Why the obsession with Bruce Lee?
I grew up a skinny kid in London, and used to get the tar beaten out of me. Here’s a skinny guy who could take on people three times his size. When I got into martial arts, I learned about his philosophy. He closed down all of his schools, saying “You guys are trying to fight like me. What I want is for you guys to fight like you.” You use style as a tool to bring out yourself. That’s the similarity with advertising.

You once created a piece of advertising that people stood in line for.
We got up an old line from De Beers: “Two things last forever. Love is one of them.” It was from an ad 15 years earlier. We said, let’s go back to that idea of longevity, proposing that longer-lasting relationships were worthwhile. We hung up mistletoe in a diamond shape in Madison Square Park, and we used the Gondry technique, where 60 cameras go off at a time, so you have an unbreakable kiss. People lined up for hours, and they were thanking us to be a part of a piece of advertising. That’s something advertising can and should be: something that enriches. Oftentimes, with religion, marketing takes its place, so we’ve got to be responsible with what message we’re putting out there.

Did you just suggest that marketing has taken the place of religion?
In some ways. If you think about how strong the church was 100 years ago. Now the church is weaker. What fills that gap? Sometimes, unfortunately, in more cases than not, marketing and TV fill that gap.

You’ve moved around a lot.
I started off in England, moved to Singapore, then to India, then back to Singapore, then to Australia, and then to America--first Portland, then Chicago, then New York.

It wasn’t by choice. I either get headhunted or fired.

I ask because so many of your ads have a restlessness: They often feature people running.
I started my career very late: I didn’t start in advertising till I was 30. So I have this little clock, where I’m thinking, “Have I caught up yet? Have I caught up yet?” I was working really hard, I’d just go at it. Then, as I started to be better, I thought, why slow down? I keep pushing, and maybe that expresses itself in this anxiousness to get somewhere.

How do you know when work’s good?
I look at a piece of work, and I think, do I give a shit? And if I give a shit, it’s probably a good piece of work. If I don’t, then it probably isn’t that great.

How do you get the distance to judge your own work?
I think for me, I’ve got more than a healthy amount of self-loathing. I haven’t done anything I like yet. I say this with students. Look at your work, and imagine your enemy is showing you this ad. “Oh, you think that’s good? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it.” I tend to treat my work like it was my enemy, so I can be hard on it, and sometimes I’m too hard on it, but it helps me keep some perspective. Though it’s probably not good for one’s health.

This interview has been condensed and edited.
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