Last week, I got a comment on my blog, as follows:

“When I worked in Dubai one of my clients was a big name domestic product in the UK, and I got on well with their managing director for the region.
He told me they had their business at GGT for a few years and asked me to review a tv ad GGT had done for them. My response was that it looked like a
moving press ad, it was not film, and the client agreed with me saying he and his management in the UK had much the same opinion.
I asked him if he had ever met any creatives at GGT, and his reply was “not once”.

Now, I think that’s meant to be a criticism in two parts, so let me answer it.

Both parts confuse FORM and FUNCTION.

First the point about the tv ad “looking like a moving press ad”.

He doesn’t mention the client or the ad, so I can’t respond specifically, but he obviously thinks there’s a rule for what ads should look like, regardless of the function.

Let’s remember the start point for all great work: form FOLLOWS function.

First decide on the job to be done, then the form will be dictated by that function.

George Lois said: “For me, a tv commercial should be a slightly moving press ad”.

What he’s saying is, we’re in the ad business, not the film business.

Our job is to make a powerful, simple, communication that stands out from everything around it. Our job is NOT to make spectacular commercials that look exactly like all other commercials in order to win awards.

The birth of great advertising was in 1960: the first great Volkswagen ad was: HOW DOES THE MAN WHO DRIVES THE SNOW-PLOUGH DRIVE TO THE SNOW-PLOUGH?

That could have been the headline on a press ad, but it was the VO on a commercial: that’s it nothing else, no music, no whizzy graphics, no one dancing, no enjoyment shots.

The point being, you don’t judge ads by rules you were taught in a marketing class, you judge them by whether they’re good or bad ads.

The second criticism was that the client never saw any creatives.

Again this is criticising the FORM not the FUNCTION.

At GGT, we hired youngsters for their ability to do outstanding advertising, not for their ability to talk a good game in front of clients.

We had account men and planners whose job it was to debate client problems, everything from price to distribution, and sit in meetings while these were discussed.

Many agencies hire creatives for how likeable they are in front of clients, we didn’t do that.

Most of our creatives were scruffy youngsters from up north who couldn’t get a job in any of the posh London agencies exactly because they weren’t client-friendly.

But their work was great, and they did a lot of it, and that’s what we wanted.

(Incidentally, all of these scruffpots went on to be ECDs or open their own agencies.)

The rules were, if creative work was being presented, creatives had the option to attend the meeting if they wanted.

Most of us found the account men and planners were better at client relationships than we were, so our time was better spent actually doing ads.

We felt the clients would judge us on the work we produced and the results we got, not on how pleasant we were in meetings.

I knew many agencies where the opposite was true, the clients liked to meet the creatives, because the creatives were more like account men.

So the work was poor, because their creatives were better at talking about work than actually doing it.

Personally, I didn’t spend a lot of time in client meetings.

But I spent lots of time at the clients’ factories, or breweries, or talking with their R&D guys until, usually, I knew more about their product than the clients did.

IMHO, the only rule is whatever it takes for creatives to do the best work.