Dave Dye is amazing at finding work everyone thought was lost.
Recently he showed me one of the first ads I’d done, with Dave Christensen.
It was recruitment ad for BMP’s creative department, and it ran in Campaign.
The headline said: THESE PEOPLE COULDN’T HAVE DONE THIS WORK AT DORLANDS, JWT, OR ROYDS.
It showed a commercial done at BMP by a team hired from Dorlands, another one done by a team hired from JWT, and a press ad done by a team hired from Royds.
The BMP ads were all good ads, but the agencies they’d come from certainly weren’t creative agencies.
The point being that BMP hired good people from unfashionable agencies.
At that time, CDP was far-and-away the most creative agency.
They had a reputation for only hiring creative superstars who cost a fortune.
But it seemed to us, this was where a lot of football teams went wrong.
They hired expensive superstars who thought only of their own careers, not the team.
I remember an Arsenal/West Ham cup final where Arsenal had a team of superstars.
Any single Arsenal player cost more than the entire West Ham team.
But West Ham won because everyone was playing for the entire team.
Whereas each Arsenal player was only playing for themselves, wanting to be sure it was them and no one else who scored.
But the West Ham team didn’t care who scored, as long as they won.
We thought we should be looking for players (copywriters and art directors) more like that.
Creatives with lots of energy not just egos.
Creatives who were desperate to do great work but weren’t being given the chance.
Creatives who could never dream of getting into CDP on the portfolio they had.
Because their agencies wouldn’t let them do exciting work.
So, for me, the most important line of that ad was the last line of the body copy: COME ALONG AND SHOW JOHN WEBSTER THE WORK YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF YOUR AGENCY.
For me it made sense for creatives to have two portfolios.
One for the printed work, or commercials, that had actually run.
But another portfolio for the great roughs they’d done that they couldn’t get out of the agency they were at.
That was the portfolio we were interested in.
Not merely the work that their creative director had chosen, but the work they were capable of.
That way we could hire people from bad agencies that were desperate for a chance to get some good work to actually run.
That’s why the second portfolio was much more important than the first.
The first was just a selection of what their current agency liked.
The second was a selection of what they were really capable of.
That’s why, when I look back at that ad now, I see the last line of copy should have been the headline: COME AND SHOW US THE WORK YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF YOUR AGENCY.
The really great football managers don’t just spend millions on buying the most expensive players from other rich clubs.
The really great managers find players where no one else is looking.
Players who could be great if they were given the chance on a good team.
That’s what that ad was about, all those years ago.
And we could hire lots of people like that for the cost of a single superstar.
And they’d have lots more energy because they had lots to prove.
In fact that’s exactly what we later did at GGT.
An entire agency full of youngsters, rebels and rejects, with something to prove.
And what we proved was it was lot better incentive than money.