When I was deputy ECD at BMP, John Webster promoted another guy over me to be sole ECD.
I would work under John because he was better than me.
But I didn’t think this other guy was, so I decided to leave.
That meant getting an ECD’s job somewhere else.
And I fancied a big agency.
Trouble was, I wasn’t famous enough to land one of those jobs.
So I needed to get famous in a hurry.
I thought the easy way to get famous quickly was to get your name on an agency.
David Abott had just left French Gold Abbott to open Abbott Mead Vickers.
I thought maybe I could talk David’s ex partner, Mike Gold, into opening an agency with me.
That way people might see my name next to Abbott’s ex partner and think I was in the same league as Abbott.
When we talked to the bank we found, if we put our houses up as security against the loan, we could stay open just 6 months.
So that’s what every ad was about.
Make this ad famous, make it stand out.
Because we won’t be here in 6 months.
We were trying to do advertising that everyone talked about.
The one thing we couldn’t afford to be was safe and invisible.
So we attracted clients who couldn’t afford that either.
Clients who had to get a result right now.
(What we now call ‘challenger brands’.)
And as Bob Dylan says, “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”
And you know what?
It worked so well that we didn’t go out of business.
Our concentration was so single minded, that our advertising was different to every other agency’s.
And accidentally we were a success.
Campaign said our advertising had, “The muscularity of American advertising with the style of British advertising.”
They also said it was like, “A brick coming through the consumer’s window with the client’s name on it.”
We just had to make sure everyone noticed our advertising.
There’s a fantastic energy, clarity, and freedom in that.
You stop worrying about other people’s opinions, and just focus on the result.
A martial arts expert once told me, to strike the most powerful blow to your opponent’s face, you don’t aim at his face.
You aim about a foot behind his face.
That way your fist is atill accelerating at the point of contact.
I think this is a similar thing.
Go for something beyond what you actually want.
Then you’re still accelerating as you go through it.