Filed under: Comment
This is a very weird post for me to write – even weirder than normal – because it’s regarding an experience I’ve never had before.
Given I’m in my 40’s and have done a stupendous amount of ridiculous things in my life – liking Queen, not included – that’s quite impressive.
Anyway, a while ago a friend of mine, Paul Catmur – the very clever & talented ECD/Partner of Barnes, Catmur & Friends in NZ – got in contact, because a mate of his, Steve Harrison, wanted to talk to me.
Now I know what you’re thinking:
Steve Harrison must be a member of Interpol.
Steve Harrison must be an international tax auditor.
Anyone who introduces a friend of theirs to me, is no friend.
… but you’d be wrong – except for point 3 – but let’s move on because it is about to get a whole lot weirder.
You see Steve Harrison didn’t work at Interpol, nor was he an international tax auditor … hell, he wasn’t even a planner who wanted a job … Steve was an author and he wanted me to read his latest book.
Now that alone is amazing, but when you hear why he wanted me to read it, you’re going to fall off your chair.
Are you sitting down?
Seriously, you’re going to want to.
OK … OK … don’t say I didn’t warn you.
You see the reason Steve wanted me to read his book was because he’d read this blog and thought I might like it.
That’s right, he’d read this rubbish and still thought I’d be worth getting a free copy of his hard work.
Naturally I assumed his book must be about Birkenstocks … or gadgets … or maybe Nottingham Forest, but it wasn’t any of those things, it was about advertising.
When I heard that, I took it he’d written ‘Advertising For Dummies’ and wanted to use me as a test dummy, but it wasn’t even that … it was a book about the remarkable life of the irrepressible, advertising visionary, Howard Gossage.
The word visionary is often overused, especially in adland, but in this case it’s absolutely deserving.
So are the words, bold … brave … whip smart … creative and iconic.
Now I appreciate some people reading this will question that given they haven’t heard of Gossage, but I hope you don’t mind when I say I don’t really care.
OK, that’s a bit rude.
What I mean is that just because someone isn’t as well known as someone like David Ogilvy, doesn’t mean they’re not as valid.
That would be like saying someone at FCB can’t be as creative or smart as someone at Droga5, which is obviously bollocks.
I suppose the bigger issue is that too many people today view anyone who worked – rather than works – in adland as irrelevant.
Hell, I’ve met people who don’t even know who Bernbach is.
Look, I know these people are from a bygone age, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from their views, opinions and ideas.
In fact, when I see some of the rubbish our industry puts out today – either as opinions or as work – I’d say they’re a hell of a lot more relevant than many of the folks we place on our shiny pedestals.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a whole bunch of people who are as imaginative, bold, brave and iconic as some of the past masters … but I guess all I’m saying is there’s as much you can learn from the masters of the past as there are from the masters of today. Even more so, given many of them are the folk who influenced and inspired the people we regard so highly today.
Which gets me back to Gossage.
If Ogilvy was The Beatles then I would say Gossage was The Rolling Stones.
Less polished and packaged and more provocative and challenging.
So much of what we talk about today – be it tension points, story telling, product invention, social impact – he was saying decades ago.
Actually he was doing more than that … he was actually executing it.
Without him, I genuinely wonder whether we would have the Wieden’s, BBH’s, Crispin’s and Droga’s to name but a few.
Steve’s book captures all this.
It educates, confronts and inspires.
It challenges your values and standards.
It fills you with excitement and promise.
It makes you want to strive for better.
In short, it makes you fall in love with this industry all over again.
It’s that good.
Now I appreciate a recommendation from me is like getting a recommendation for a creche from Jimmy Saville, but if you want to see what you and adland are capable of becoming – whether you’re a planner, creative, suit or client – then I urge you to read this book, because I assure you that you won’t regret it.
In fact it might be the first – and last – thing you ever thank me for.
50 Comments so far
Leave a comment