HANDS UP WHO’S HEARD OF SI LAM?

LOST AND FOUND. By Alfredo Marcantonio. I first saw the name Si Lam alongside “We’ll never make it big” a Volkswagen poster that appeared in 1967’s New York Art Directors club Annual. It was produced by DDB’s Los Angeles office and I reasoned that Mr Lam would be one of the many talented Californians who boasted Japanese extraction. It was a misapprehension that I fostered for 40 years or more. DDB New York’s legendary Beetle and Bus ads lived onRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 8: The Copywriters

‘Truly original creative work doesn’t tend to win awards.’ – John Hegarty. He’s right of course, (he is, after all, John Hegarty). It not only means that great work didn’t get the recognition it deserved back in the day, it means it’s not on the record for people like me to check today. Because awards annuals are the only reliable place to check who did what when. I’ve grouped the people in this post because they had far fewer entriesRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 4: Rita Selden

After the first post in this series a friend got in touch to say he liked it, but wasn’t that ‘built’ a bit of an exaggeration? No. Look at ‘Bill Bernbach’s Book – The advertising that changed the world of advertising’, written by Bob Levenson, a 30 year veteran, both writer and Creative Director. (When Creative Director meant head of all creatives.) EXHIBIT A: The picture above, it’s from the cover of that book (women involved in all six adsRead more

BULLSEYE!

I worked with Sean Doyle for roughly 12 years. One morning, about six years in, Sean threw a scruffy ball of paper over to my side of the desk – ‘I did us a logo’. It was like a miracle; Our names fit together perfectly, symmetrically, what were the chances? It was worth putting it together even if just to enter for awards. I turned the scribble into type. That wasn’t how Sean had imagined it. DYE was too dominant.Read more

PODCAST: Gary Goldsmith

Pick up any New York Art Directors Club Annual from the sixties and you can feel the heat coming off the pages. The Writers are using words previously confined to conversation, the Art Directors are trying to find new ways to present the information (‘Creating new pages’ as Helmut Krone put it.) Then, the seventies. A whole different story; the experimentation and energy appear to have dried up. True, there are still lots of good thoughts and lines, but inRead more

Hands Up Who’s Heard Of Frank Budgen?

We’re smack bang in the middle of the age of collaboration. Any press release for a creative hiring now contains that reassuring phrase ‘Known for being collaborative’. (To me it always reads ‘We’re pleased to announce we’ve finally found a creative who will listen to us’.) The feeling the team had creating the work is as scrutinised as what they created. But collaboration means different things to different people. For most of the team it conjures up enjoyable meetings onRead more

GREEN BOOKS: New Yorker Ads 1.

‘‘Alright fatty, what you after?” How do you react? I’m guessing it would taint your opinion of that particular bookshop, making you less inclined to buy. Nobody likes being disrespected or patronised. What about if that bookshop owner had said “Oh, just to let you know; the new Proust collection is just in”. Sure, you’d look behind you to check that they were talking to you, but you couldn’t help but be pleased that they’d presumed you were intelligent. ItRead more

GREEN BOOKS: New Yorker Ads 3.

Another batch of fertilizer. That’s not a euphemism by the way, just a reminder that ideas grow from ideas, they rarely appear out of the blue. I sometimes hear people say ‘I’m all about tomorrow, I never look back…I’m like an arrow heading towards the future’. It sounds bloody exciting. Then I look at their output, and it often feels so…so, soul-less  gimmicky…nothingy. Like it or not, the truth is that jobs, like most jobs, are less about inventing thanRead more

PODCAST: Me. (Pt. 1)

A lot of people have suggested that I do a podcast on myself. Aside from the obvious difficulties of trying to ask yourself probing questions, it felt a little bit indulgent, particularly as I did a whole series of them with my friend Ben Kay, (I think we recorded more episodes than the latest season of Game Of Thrones). But when someone who’s kindly agreed to be interviewed by me asks me to be interviewed by them, it feels rude to sayRead more

Len Weinreich’s corkboard.

One of the side-effects of putting out this blog has been the people I’ve met. Take Len Weinreich, whilst trying to find Paul Leeves work for an upcoming podcast, I came across Len, it turns out he lives down the road from me. Alan Parker had referred to him as ‘the bloke who taught me everything I know about advertising’, Dave Trott said he gave him the best piece of advice on advertising he ever got and Paul Leeves simply saidRead more

PODCAST: Ben Priest.

The arc of most creative agencies tends to be very similar; start idealistic and creative, become less principled and duller over the years as the realities of finance, earn-outs and fatigue start to kick in. Adam & Eve are like the Benjamin Button of ad agencies. They started burdened by the financial realities due to a situation called ‘Sorrell’. Having come through the early sensible years they seem to grow more creative as each year goes by. They won noRead more

INTERVIEW: John O’Driscoll.

Where were you brought up John? Before I answer that question are you sure about this interview? I don’t give short answers and have a tendency to go on a bit! Ask my family! Yeah, I’ve heard that. I was born and bred in a Surrey village called Hersham. Birth place of Julie Andrews and Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69. What was the first ad you remember? It wasn’t until I was 13 that I remember seeing an advert thatRead more

VOLKSWAGEN: ‘Abbo’.

In 2009, we pitched for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. As the recession was just starting to bite and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles were generally dearer than non-Volkswagen commercial vehicles. I thought we needed to find a writer who could write. Someone who could put together a reasoned argument as to why businessmen should pay more for something they could buy for less. It’s a tough brief. I tried to think who’d fit it, but couldn’t think of anyone. I’d recently picked thisRead more