A while ago Mark Denton did a talk at BMB.
My daughter, an art director, said “His talk is better than yours Dad, you should go and see him”.
So Gordon Smith and I went to along see Mark talk at Abbott Mead.
And you know what, she’s right.
After seeing him, Gordon and I were so buzzed-up we sat and talked about it for over an hour.
We’d forgotten just how good it was to hear someone who thought what we did was fun.
Someone who felt like a kid in a sweet shop.
Not just another marketing theory, not just more Power Point.
I’d forgotten that what we do is fun.
Because you can’t research fun, you can’t do a case study about fun, you can’t show fun on the P&L.
Fun doesn’t work as a rational argument, so we don’t do it.
Except Mark does.
His attitude is he’s working for himself.
He loves his ideas and they’re too good to waste.
So if someone tells him he can’t do something he goes ahead and does it anyway.
Even if he has to pay for it himself.
Although he doesn’t usually have to, because he can usually find other people who are dying to do good work and have fun.
So usually Mark gets help from other energetic people.
Budding photographers, designers, typographers, model makers, directors, art directors, stylists, illustrators, publishers, retouchers.
Because it’s fun, the work’s usually much more exciting.
Which means it gets seen, so it gets talked about, so it wins awards, so it gives everyone’s career a boost.
Because everyone’s having fun.
The work leads to awards, which leads to more fame, which leads to more work, which leads to more money.
But that wasn’t the brief at the beginning.
The brief was just to do lots of what you love and have fun.
All the rest is a by-product of energy and excitement.
They have a saying in New York “If you want to pick the fruit you have to water the tree”.
That’s what Mark does.
Having fun and doing what you love is watering the tree.
At a time when nobody wants to water the tree.
When all anyone wants to do is pick the fruit.
To make money, to write case histories, to win new business, to win awards, to build the company, to sell the company, to make more money.
No one wants to water the tree, no one’s interested in fun.
There’s no money in fun, fun is irresponsible.
You can’t take fun to the bank.
But you know what?
That’s exactly why advertising looks the way it does.
Like no one’s having any fun.
Fun in, fun out.
Dull in, dull out.
Which is what makes Mark different.
Mark had fun when he worked at BBH, he loved what he did and it showed in his work.
So much so, he got asked to start a company: Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow Johnson.
Creatively, this was one of the most influential agencies around.
Which meant Mark could have even more fun, he won so many awards he became famous and made even more money.
So he opened his own production company, now he writes, he art directs, he directs, he does whatever he wants.
He’s doing lots of work, winning awards, making money and he still feels like a kid in a sweet shop.
All because of a secret ingredient everyone else forgot.