One of our dickweed creatives comes to company Halloween party as me.

Thirty-one goddamn years in the business and you’d think I’d get more respect. Especially from the dickweeds I work with.

And then you get this…..dude comes “dressed as me” to Halloween.

It’s just mean-spirited and disrespectful, is all I have to say about it.

Making fun of both my age and the fact that I had knee-replacement surgery this summer, which was really painful by the way….Mr. Colin Gray, at colin.gray@ideacity.com.

The dude is in MY group at GSD&M, which is bad enough. Then again, that means I get to do his review, which is coming up very soon.

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UPDATE: To add insult to injury, Mr. C. Gray’s “funny” costume won first place in the agency costume contest. Disturbingly, he beat out someone who was either wearing a great Jesus costume or was in fact Jesus, either of which means Mr. Gray is going to Hell for his little stunt. Pictured below, he and I just after the award ceremony having a little chat about his upcoming review.

Great CDs Are Almost Always Great People, Too.

Recently I posted an article about brutal creative directors. My advice was to get your book out there as fast as you can. Now, if I may, a few words on what I think makes a good creative director.

I once read that a coach’s main job is to love his players. I think the same holds true for creative directors. Advertising is so hard. There is so much rejection, so much brutality, so many late nights. To be able to motivate people in such a business, you have to love them and they have to know it. Not everyone feels this way. A famous CD once confided to me, “You need to have people fear you.” I disagree. Life is short and this is just advertising, people. If this means I’ll always produce less stellar work than a much-feared-CD, I’m okay with that. We all have our priorities. Those are mine.

Good creative directors need to get to know their people. I’ve heard of CDs who dig a moat around their office and meet only with the senior creatives; never with anyone lower down the food chain. This, too, I think is probably the wrong way to go about it. You need to know and love the people who are manning your trenches. You need to know their names, you need to know what they’re working on, you need to know when they do something great so you can lean into their offices and say, “Dude, that was great.” Soldiers do not charge machine-gun nests for generals they do not love.

Good CDs not only improve your work, they improve you. Someone once told me that a great creative director is a “career accelerator.” These are bosses who leave your career in better shape than they found it. That requires someone who is not completely wrapped up in either themselves or the pressures of doing good work. They manage to keep an eye on the lives and the souls of the people who are working for them.

This takes me to a concept I’ve heard described as the “servant leader.”  Writer James Kouzes wrote that such leaders “do not place themselves at the center; they place others there. They do not seek the attention of people; they give it to others. They do not focus on satisfying their own aims and desires [but on] the needs and interests of their people. They know that serving others is the most rewarding of all leadership tasks.”

Wow. Sounds a little altruistic put like that, but then I think of a guy like Mike Hughes at The Martin Agency and I realize, hey, he’s right. Here’s a guy who has been quietly building one of the best agencies anywhere and doing it by serving his people, serving his agency, doing it without an ego, and without beating on or intimidating the folks who work there.

Perhaps another day we can talk about all the other things it takes to be a good creative director,  one of which of course is being a good creative. But for my money the most important thing is being a good person – Honest. Level-headed. Friendly. Approachable. And humble.

UPDATE since the first issue of this essay on a different website: Mike Hughes, my old boss at The Martin Agency, kindly wrote to me to tell me he agreed with the sentiments in this essay, with one exception: that a good CD has to have been a good creative. He gave several examples, one of which was Bill Bernbach. Mike told me, “They are totally different skill sets.” I think he is correct. I amend my remarks. Thanks, Mike.

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Footnote: There’s a great article on what it takes to be a good creative director posted by the Denver Egoist which you’ll find here.

An Old Video I Made About Being A Creative Dickweed.

Why do people in this business get such big heads? I can’t for the life of me figure it out.

When you think about it, in the old days we woulda just been the knuckleheads who carved the big tooth signs for the town dentist.

CUT TO AWARDS SHOW AT THE 1864 CANNES:

“Dude, I heard your tooth sign got short-listed!”

“You liked that? The whole sign as a tooth? Fuckin’ brill, right?”

“Yeah, but those dickweeds at Merchant’s Signs & Hitching Posts entered an incisor. Soooo  derivative.”

Yet to this day some of us seem to behave as if we’re Hemingway, Michelangelo, and Mother Teresa all poured into a Bottega Veneta suit and posing for photos holding a baby we just saved from a burning building.

But back in reality, where we get our mail, all we’re doin’ in this business is makin’ stuff like end-aisle displays. Okay, sometimes we get to hang our big tooth on the Super Bowl, but it’s still a tooth.

Go figure.

Yes, I know there is honor in every kind of job, including ours. I’m not trashin’ what I do for a living, just the people who make way more of what we do than they oughta.

So anyway, back in 1985 (yes, there were agencies back then) I made a stupid video for some ad club meeting. I thought, what if I could live for just a day as the most arrogant dickweed in advertising. My silly idea was “Ad Guy 007.”

It kinda sucks, but it sucks less than the long version I just cut it down from. Ad folks from my time might recognize Daniel Russ (I beat him up), Charlotte Moore (007′s Moneypenny), Jerry Torchia (as the Wrist) as well as John Boatwright and Andy Ellis (account guy and client respectively). Check out my groovy “cell” phone, too.

And now, bidding you adieu in the famous James Bond fashion, is your author. . . .

“Weed.”

“Dick Weed.”

[pro-player type="mov" height="500" weight="500"]http://www.heywhipple.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Ad-Guy-007.mov[/pro-player]

My Favorite Radio Campaign. I Mean, That I Personally Wrote.

31 years in the business, and this one radio campaign — for Dunwoody Technical Institute — is my single favorite creation. And the reason: I had a great client who  trusted that I had their best interests at heart.

As I’ve mentioned before, radio is a great medium to work in. Partly because everybody tends to leave you the hell alone. They don’t know what makes for great radio, at least not in the script stage.

Previously on this blog I’ve suggested that radio is one of the few media where I do not feel bound by any particular campaign structure. Plenty of great radio campaigns out there have them (I’m thinking Bud or Motel 6). And if you’ve stumbled upon a format or a platform that’s yielding great spots one after another, by all means, stick with it. But if such a platform eludes you, there is no dishonor to you nor loss to your client if you end up creating simply a string of great stinkin’ radio spots. As long as the spots are great.

See, I think radio is different than other media. A radio spot exists only as long as it’s playing. (Okay, so does TV. Pipe down, I’m on a roll here.) And unlike TV or print, there’s no visual graphic standards to worry about. Whenever I sit down to do radio, I allow myself the freedom to attack it one spot at a time, trying to string together a bunch of the coolest-or-funniest-or-scariest spots that I can. Sometimes I’ll hit on a spot that has a repeatable format, with lots of legs. THAT’S when I go with a very campaign-y campaign. And if I don’t? BFD.

The thing is, if you are diligently writing to one strategy, one brief, your spots will likely all add up to one brand anyway. No matter how wildly different the structures of the spots or the sound of their voiceovers, in the end the listener takes away one thought. (GEICO’S 4 TV campaigns come to mind.)  In the case of these wildly dissimilar spots for Dunwoody, the intended take-away is: “You can waste your life after high school by getting a crappy job, or by getting a fancy-schmancy liberal arts degree which will result in the same crappy job anyway. So come to Dunwoody for training in a actual career where you’ll land an actual job.”

You can listen to my fave radio campaign by clicking here. Please feel free to tell me what you think, even if you think they suck. (I’ll probably disagree with you because I think they’re pretty good. But, hey, I could be wrong.)