Giles Edwards is founder and MD at Gasp.
He told me about his art director’s friend’s daughter who is ten years old.
She wanted a birthday party, but her mum said she couldn’t have one this year.
So, the little girl didn’t argue.
She just made lots of invitations for her birthday party, stating very clearly that everyone must get their mother to RSVP to her mother.
Then she went to school and handed them out to all her friends.
Of course, all the little girls wanted to come so they got their mothers to RSVP.
All the mothers said it was a wonderful idea and their little girls would love to come.
And the little girl’s mother was so inundated with replies she was forced to have a birthday party for her daughter after all.
That little girl didn’t stamp and scream, she creatively found a way around the problem.
Because she understands something very few people in advertising agencies do.
The punters haven’t read the brief.
People outside the agency don’t know what we know.
So their start point isn’t our start point.
For instance, in the mid 1970s, I wanted to start the D&AD Advertising Concepts Workshops.
It was meant to be for people trying to get into advertising.
I wanted to have a class taught at a different agency, by different creatives, every week.
The first thing we needed was to get together and agree who did which dates.
So, I wrote letters to London’s sixty top creatives inviting them to come to BMP.
On the evening I’d laid out beer, wine, crisps, sandwiches and I waited, and waited.
No one turned up except Jeremy Sinclair.
I was crushed, I said “Fuck it, if no one wants to help let’s just forget the whole thing.”
Jeremy said, “Calm down Dave, just think for a minute: no one knows everybody else didn’t turn up – everyone will think they’re the only one who didn’t come.”
Jeremy said we should carry on as if everyone turned up, because no one would know.
So that’s what we did, we went through the list of dates putting names next to each of them.
Then next day we sent letters out saying this was what everyone present had agreed.
(Which was true because, although Jeremy and I were the only ones present, we agreed it.)
Sure enough Jeremy was right, everyone looked at the list of dates and they all went along with it.
The D&AD Advertising Concepts Workshop was born and it ran every week for thirty years.
Each week, different creatives trained people at different agencies.
Some of the best people in our business got their start on that course.
All because Jeremy taught me what I hadn’t seen.
To think of everyone as an individual, not just a huge mass of people.
And to realise that those individuals don’t know what I know.
Because what I know is a result of me having full knowledge about what’s going on.
What I know is a result of lots of meetings and a thorough briefing on the situation.
What I know is that this current problem fills my whole mind.
So, what I’m thinking is that everyone else must be thinking the same as me.
But of course, they aren’t, in their world, none of this exists.
In their world, they’ve got a million other things on their mind.
They’re not thinking about my problem, my brief, my ad campaign at all.
Which is why most of us are just talking to ourselves.
Because, to put it succinctly, the punters haven’t read the brief.
Which is something that little girl could teach everyone in advertising and marketing.