Richard Selbourne is a creative director who’s won a lot of the awards over the years.
I was reading an interview with him on a blog called Creativepool.
The interesting thing for me was what he said about two of the agencies he’d worked at.
He said they couldn’t be more different, but he’d learned a lot from both.
That’s how I think it should be.
You don’t only look for things that reflect exactly how you think it should be.
You learn different things from different places.
It’s just like a meal.
Take what you want, leave what you don’t.
Maybe that’s why he’s an award winning creative director.
This is the excerpt from the interview:
Q: “I’ve read that you once took a 60% pay cut to join Gold Greenlees Trott. So how was it working there?”
A: “I was only at GGT for a few months, but it was an unforgettable experience.
While I was there, they ran a course of evening lectures for students to rival the D&AD student courses, which they considered to be elitist.
All the agency juniors were invited to attend and it was a bonus to get such an insight into that unique way of doing things.
I learnt how tough the place was, even before I joined.
Group Head, Paul Grubb offered me a job but, as it meant taking a huge pay cut, I asked him for 24 hours to sort my finances out.
I rang back the next day to accept, and he told me the job offer was no longer on the table.
I was mortified.
Paul told me that if I needed time to think about accepting a job at GGT, then I obviously wasn’t the right kind of person for the agency.
I insisted I was and he challenged me to prove it.
To give me a marker, he said the last junior they’d taken on had dropped a new campaign off at the agency every morning for a month until he was hired.
It doesn’t seem very original, looking back, but I decided that I would try and go one better than the last guy by dropping two new campaigns off at the agency every morning.
I did this for a week and when it came to the Saturday I thought that I should prove to Paul that I was keen enough to work weekends.
I found out where he lived from a friendly headhunter, who knew his best mate, and I duly traipsed across London to Twickenham on the train with my two campaigns to put through his letterbox.
On the Monday morning, I got the second offer of a job, and this time I accepted without drawing breath.
Every Creative worked on every brief and it was very much a dog-eat-dog environment.
I was advised by one of my fellow juniors to take all my ideas home with me at night because one ambitious team, who always worked later than the rest of the department, had a reputation for rifling through everyone’s work and copying the best stuff.
A rival team had taken to hiding their concepts in their office’s false ceiling overnight to avoid them being stolen.
When they learnt that this secret place had somehow been discovered by the supposed ‘idea thieves’, they took to hiding crap decoy ideas in the false ceiling overnight while they sellotaped their real gems to the underside of their desks.
Despite such madness, the agency was relentlessly producing one fantastic campaign after another so you really can’t knock it.”
Q: “From GGT to CDP. No pressure then?”
A: “There probably couldn’t have been two more different agencies in London at the time.
While GGT was macho and streetwise, CDP was erudite with every step of the crafting process carefully considered from every angle.
My office was right next to Neil Godfrey’s, while Indra Sinha and Tony Brignull were over the corridor, and John O’Donnell was the Creative Director.
You can’t help but learn good habits off people like that, and I loved every minute of my time there.
A few months ago, I attended a reunion to celebrate 50 years of the agency, and it was fantastic to catch up with everyone again.
There was still a real sense of pride in the place.”
(End of interview, back to blog.)
For me that’s how it should be.
Good things don’t have to be the same, they just have to be good.
And there are many different ways of being good.
So learn from everything.
Take what you want, leave what you don’t.
Then put the different parts together in a way that works for you.
Years ago, Ed McCabe did the advertising for Volvo.
The strap line for his campaign was: “THE CAR FOR PEOPLE WHO THINK.”
After it had been running for a while he did an ad for the entire Volvo range.
Seven different cars spread across the DPS.
The headline said, “BECAUSE NOT EVERYONE WHO THINKS, THINKS THE SAME.”
That’s not just an ad.
That’s a philosophy.