Ron Collins was a one man team.
He was a great art director who was also a terrific writer.
He told me, when he was at CDP, he was working on a TV campaign.
Suddenly he had a great idea and he wrote it up on the spot.
Now when you do something on your own, you’re never quite sure if it’s really a great idea.
So he walked out of his office looking for someone to show it to.
Coming down the corridor was Frank Lowe, the CEO.
Frank said, “Hello Ron, what are you working on?”
Ron said, “I’ve just written this script. I think it’s good, but I’m not sure.”
Frank said, “Let me see.”
He read it through and said, “It’s brilliant. Who should we get to direct it, Alan, or Ridley?”
Ron said, “We’ve got research it first Frank.”
Frank said, “I’ve just done that. Now who should we get to direct it, Alan or Ridley?”
Frank didn’t need permission.
He was having it his way and that was that.
Ross Cramer was telling me about when he worked with Charlie Saatchi.
They had an agency together called Cramer Saatchi.
Ross was the art director and Charlie was the writer.
They’d just done a Health Education Council ad about what happens when a fly lands on your food.
For me, it’s one of the all-time best ever ads.
Ross said he knew it was a great ad when they did it.
So he was desperate to get it to run.
The client liked it a lot, but just wanted to change a full stop to a comma.
Ross said “Yes, okay.”
Charlie said, “No.”
The client said, “Come on, surely that isn’t such a big issue?”
Ross was thinking, “No it isn’t, and I don’t want to lose the ad over a full stop.”
Charlie said to the client, “You do your job, and I’ll do mine.”
And the ad ran exactly as Charlie had written it.
Ross didn’t want to risk it.
For Charlie it wasn’t a risk.
He was having it his way and that was that.
Nowadays I see a lot of people moaning that you can’t do that anymore.
That no one lets you be really creative and exciting.
But the truth is nothing’s changed.
No one ever let you be creative and exciting.
No one ever gave you permission.
If you had to wait for permission you probably weren’t creative and exciting in the first place.
Frank and Charlie didn’t wait for permission.
They were having it their way and that was that.
It could have gone badly wrong.
And probably for a lot of people it did go badly wrong.
They ignored the rules, had the rows, and lost their jobs.
Paul Arden got fired from at least two jobs before he ended up at Saatchi & Saatchi.
Then he became the creative director of the biggest agency in the world.
These are people who would rather go out with a bang than a whimper.
People who would rather fail big than succeed small.
People who will not compromise.
I don’t say they’re right.
Personally, I’m not like that.
I’ll compromise if it gets me what I want.
I’d rather have 75% of what I want than lose the entire 100%.
Frank and Charlie and Paul weren’t like that.
For them it was all or nothing.
Shit or bust.
They just did it and accepted all the risks that went with it.
Other people want to do the same thing but without any risks.
They want the success that the risk-takers had.
But they don’t want to take a chance of losing their job.
I can understand that.
But it doesn’t work that way.
The freedom to succeed includes the freedom to fail.