Archive for the ‘advertising’ Tag

Alchemy by Rory Sutherland – Quote

I went yesterday evening to hear Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman of ad agency Ogilvy in the UK, speak in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square about his new book Alchemy. I have had the good fortune to meet&chat with Rory on a number of occasions and it is never less than fascinating. He kindly contributed to the (finished) chapter on Paul Arden in my (unfinished, as yet) book When Sparks Fly.

Rory sutherland conway hall how to academy 17th April 2019 talk red bull

Rory grabbing the Bull by the horns

In view of the fact I’ve recently started working at Red Bull Media House (as a Commissioning Editor), I loved that he used Red Bull as a striking case study in this talk (as well as in the foreword of his book which I started reading today).

I liked this quotation on the value of Big Data from today’s reading:

It’s important to remember that big data all comes from the same place – the past.

Rory is a big advocate of evolutionary psychology and behavioural science (with all the irrationality those expose) as opposed to economics and other data-driven activities. He’s not against logic and hard facts, just in favour of suspending rationality from time to time in favour of creative magic or alchemy.

A River Runs Through It (Day 44)

The Thames at Richmond Bridge

Started the new week with a sunlit trip round the civilised (off-peak) North London line to Richmond where I interviewed Alexandra Taylor, one-time protegee of Paul Arden at Saatchi & Saatchi, a very accomplished Art Director, who, alongside Charles Saatchi, was one of the only two people Arden cited as having inspired him during his career (on receiving his Lifetime Achievement  Award from Creative Circle in 2007). Alex is currently putting together a book of Arden’s photograph collection, making use of his diaries.

From Richmond High Street (well off my manor, little known to me other than as a transit point for getting to the rugby at Twickenham) I jumped on a bus to get to the river. Found myself a perfect spot below Richmond Bridge at which to work, a bench facing into the lowering autumn sun across the Thames just above a path which suddenly disappeared in the high tide, in just a matter of seconds. Boatmen, geese and other passers-by punctuated a mild afternoon of writing more of the Advertising/Arden chapter and reading Hettie Jones’ book How I Became Hettie Jones. Hettie is a magazine publisher and poet who knew Allen Ginsberg and was married to Leroi Jones, the writer/dramatist, author of Dutchman (which I came across and read in a teenage burst of play-reading). He became Amiri Baraka who plays an important role in one of my favourite movies, Bulworth.

I gradually made my way to the BBC in White City, via more Hettie Jones in a caff in Acton Central, for the process of dropping the live interactive insert into tonight’s Health Freaks.

Hettie Jones Portrait

Amiri Baraka in Bulworth movie

Web of intrigue (Day 19)

independent slogan

Started the new week by focusing on the Advertising chapter. Wrote up a few notes from the last of Paul Arden’s three books that I read, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite. Increasingly I can see a real value in these peculiar volumes for the young in particular, to help them be bolder and less fearful.

I then dived into my first bit of full-on web research, including ploughing through the condolence book messages people left online in 2008 when Arden took the taxi ride to God. They are very varied so I really feel I now have the measure of the man, clearly complex and extraordinary, so well worthy of being the primary subject of a chapter.

Most of my research to date has been book based and I was deliberately hanging back a bit from getting engulfed in web trawling too early.

I’ll need to start setting up the Advertising interviews tomorrow. I’ve already done some pre-meets/calls. For this chapter the interviews will be the main source of the stories which serve to propel the reader through.

I rounded off the day absorbing the material I received at the tail-end of last week from a 60s poet for the Ginsberg Literature chapter.

I didn’t get through everything I planned for today but made OK progress and knocking off on the dot of 5 with unseemly haste means I can write this on my phone sitting outside Amici nursing my cappy in the golden autumnal evening light, before trotting twenty yards down the hill to the Phoenix Cinema to see the Hannah Arendt movie with a Q&A with the director Margarethe Von Trotta.

Chapter 7 (Day 18)


A Paul Arden classic

Decided to take a break from Chapter One by broaching a second chapter (which is actually Chapter Seven), the one about Advertising. Using the same method I used to kick off the first one, I lifted a broad structure out of my overall structure document and began filling it in with my main thoughts, especially the principles illustrated by the primary case study, in this case Paul Arden, Creative Director and Author. I spent the day focusing on the three illustration/typographically lead books he published through art publisher Phaidon, as well as gathering a few other bits and pieces I’d gathered through speaking to his erstwhile colleagues.

Took a break to do a script meeting for Channel 4’s Health Freaks in Kentish Town where the indie, Outline, is based. Enjoyable contrast.

Then back to base for a chat with Michael Morris of Artangel to confirm my Art case study which will be a pairing, Jeremy Deller and (probably) Laurie Anderson. The whole matter of getting enough women into the book is tricky, illuminating in itself of both historic gender issues and on-going ones.

I knocked off a bit early for a trip to Crouch End with the other half. I’m my own boss and nothing if not sympathetic.

Back on the horse (Day 5)

Judyth Greenburgh

After a bit of a party weekend (which wiped out Friday) I got back to it this morning, albeit with battalions of brain cells dead and wounded. This morning I carried on transferring margin notes from research material into my draft Chapter 1 on Ginsberg – a good solid bit of graft so that I made progress without too much recourse to brain.

Early afternoon I headed up to Camden Town to meet an old friend, Judyth Greenburgh, to get some insight into Paul Arden, Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi in the early 80s when she first entered the world of advertising and became a protege of his at the age of 19. He was clearly a complex man so my jury remains out as to the degree to which his creative activity was open or generous. The story of Judyth’s professional relationship with Arden was both fascinating and moving, two very strong-willed creatives going head-to-head, one refreshingly naive and the other mysterious in his motivations, other than a commitment to art and excellence which was incontrovertible. I’m going to have to sound out more people who worked with him to decide whether to plough that furrow any further.

Back for more graft on Ginsberg, trying to figure out in the process how best to organise these transferred notes for easy integration into the text, balancing out detailed referencing back to the sources with speed to keep a decent momentum. The sense of learning as you go along is exciting.

Judyth Greenburgh

Tomorrow I’m on the move, heading for Derry, so it will be largely a reading day.

Big Unstoppable

Mark Earls the Herdmeister showed this vid at b.TWEEN 09 in Liverpool the other day (his keynote, which almost got us chucked out the venue for bouncing around, was one of our best decisions on the b.TWEEN Advisory Board this year, a good active, participatory, embarrassing-for-the-English kick off [James Estill, sorry for kneeing you – accident …honest])  – I love rewatching this for insight into human copying and community…

Where, do you reckon, is the tipping point?

The Way of the World

Signs of the times?…

Following nothing

Following nothing

Over 3,000 people follow …nothing (but a promise)

Containing nothing

Containing nothing

linked to a site containing …nothing (but a promise and an advertisement). Get the ads right and the content can take care of itself. I believe in ‘launch early and often’ as much as the next guy, but there’s early – and there’s Early.

Meanwhile – over at Tumblr…

Tumblr teamthe Team is a bit light on the fairer sex.

Stumbled across these in the course of a couple of minutes via Twitter a few days ago and (no offence intended to Big Blue Baby or Tumblr, another few minutes and I dare say some other examples would have crossed the radar) they struck a cautionary chord.

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