Creative people are usually, understandably enough, similar to their work.

David Abbott’s advertising was intelligent and cool.

Charlie Saatchi’s advertising was bold and confrontational.

John Webster’s advertising was funny and charming.

Paul Arden’s advertising was stylish and unconventional.

Alan Waldie’s advertising was hard to work out, enigmatic.

Much like Alan himself.

Waldie actually launched two advertising genres.

Surrealism, and super-expensive commercials.

He did it over 30 years ago, with his Benson & Hedges advertising.

It’s hard to imagine the impact of that now.

Like all great creativity it was different, unusual, and consequently unsettling.

No one knew what to make of it.

It didn’t follow the rules by which things could be easily judged.

The posters had no words.

They didn’t explain themselves.

They didn’t attempt to sell in an obvious way.

You had to work them out.

Much the way you had to work Waldie out.

He didn’t explain himself.

He would make a cryptic comment and walk away.

Leaving you to think, what did he mean by that?

Like most creative people he had a sense of the mischievous.

Creative people like to disturb the status quo.

Isn’t that the point of creativity?

And Alan liked to disrupt things.

He was what the Americans would call a maverick.

What the establishment calls a loose cannon.

CDP had taken him to Germany to meet a client and go on a factory visit.

But, like most creative minds, Alan has a short attention span.

He looks for things that amuse him.

They may not always be appropriate.

Alan was picked up at the airport by the German client.

He was being taken to the client’s offices.

He sat in the back of the limousine with the client.

The limo stopped at a level crossing to let a train go by.

It was part of the new high-speed rail network the Germans were so proud of.

Alan turned to the client.

He gestured to the train rushing smoothly and efficiently by.

The client waited for the compliment he was sure would come.

Alan said, “I see you’re putting windows in them now, then.”

The client wasn’t quite sure what he’d heard.

Surely he couldn’t be making a joke.

Not this polite, quiet Englishman.

Not about that.

Could he?

Shortly after CDP decided it probably wasn’t a good idea for Alan to visit clients.

They sent him home.

The good news about creativity is that it stands out.

It’s different, unusual, and sometimes it can be unsettling.

The bad news about creativity is that it stands out.

It’s different, unusual, and sometimes it can be unsettling.

But isn’t that the point?