PODCAST: Cabell Harris

Ad agencies often claim to have no set style, that each campaign is created from scratch, bespoke for every client.
It may be true for the mediocre ones, but not the great ones.
Nobody used to confuse the work of AMV, BBH and GGT.
The same with Wieden, Chiat and Fallon.
Today, stick me in front of a tv and I’d fancy my chances at picking the Droga5.
Or spotting the Uncommon on a tube platform.

Because although ad agencies use the same ingredients, like chefs, they favour some more than others.
We fight the idea of having a certain style in our business, ‘I thought that was one of yours’ can feel like a slap in the face.
Most creative industries embrace it.
Architects aren’t chosen because they have no particular style.
Clothes aren’t bought because the designer covers the whole map.
Does anyone confuse Quentin Tarantino films with Wes Anderson’s?
No, that’s the point, their style is the attraction.
Their philosophy, which has been honed over the years by everything they’ve consumed, the films, tv, magazines, conversations, experiences, comic books, even ads, that’s what you’re buying.

It’s the same with good Creatives.
They have likes and dislikes, that creates a style.

If asked you to spoof an ad by David Abbott, Tom McElligott, or John Webster, you probably could, because you’d recognise their patterns. 
Cabell Harris is the same.
Whatever the agency or size of budget, he manages to create work that feels personal.

Quirky, human with a hint of mischief.
Take his One Show 1997 cover, (for my money – the best awards cover annual full stop).
One Show Annuals are highly coveted by creatives, sometimes too coveted – getting coveted out of offices and are never seen again.
Cabell came up with a great solution: a cover s
o dull, it would repel would-be Creative thieves.

Brilliant insight.
Brilliant idea.
Beautifully executed.
We had a great chat about this and the rest of his work, and, by the end, I was even pronouncing his name correctly. (Cab-ell, not K-ball.)
Hope you enjoy.

Spencer Printing.

Barnett Bank.

Creative Newspaper.

Ad Club.

Virginia Tourism.


Frick Motor Gallery.


Lee Brauer.

Pottery Barn.

Norfolk & Portsmouth Psychiatric Centers.

The One Show 9.

Under Where?

Clyde’s Restaurant Group.

Richmond Advertising Club.

With fellow founder Luke Sullivan.

Handcraft Ad.


Tim Olive.

Girl Scouts.

Successful Farming Magazine.

NYNEX Yellow Pages.
“These were some of the first interactive posters” – Gerry Graf.
This would be posted, for a week or so, leaving people wondering what the earth it meant and who it was for.

Then a week later this was added.


Then this…



New York Life.

Save The World.

Consumer News.


That t-shirt that gets a mention in the pod.

The Splendid Seed Tobacco Company.

OGILVY New York.

Crunch Gym.

Beverley Hills Baseball Card Shop.

Anti-Smoking (California).

California Tourism.


Work Labs.
Smith & Nelson.

Crestar Bank.

Wheat First Union.

The National Museum Of The American Indian.
LABRYT. (Mentioned in the pod.)

Meteor Wines.




Creative Black Book.

Radio Heard Here.

Revenuer’s Cut.

VCU BrandCenter.



WORK Projects.

The Old Hollywood Lighting Company.



More pictures of Cabell for your walls.

2 responses to PODCAST: Cabell Harris

  1. Nick Cohen says:

    Simply amazing work. A master craftsman and gymnastic brain. So great seeing this all together. Respect!

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