Tuesday, April 29, 2014


When I was about 11 or 12 years old, there was a girl in my 7th-grade class, Mary-Ellen DeLuca, who got sent home from school because she was wearing pants.

That was against the rules. 

Girls wore dresses.

A year after, or maybe it was just a few months, everyone had switched over from dresses for girls and trousers for boys to blue-jeans for everyone.

We rebelled against the conformity of 1950s-style dress by adopting the conformity of Levi's.

We adopted to the conformity of non-conformity in dress, in music, in drugs and rebellion.

I remember jokingly calling jeans the clothes everyone wears to be different.

My point is simple.

We are like ants or sheep.

We move along with the crowd.

We proudly proclaim "think different," but only if someone else thought different first.

We imitate innovation and think that makes us innovative.

Awards shows are really, it seems to me, conformity yardsticks.

How much does your work conform to what's cool today?

Years and years ago, the One Club in New York (this is when they were located in a brownstone on East 51st Street) had an exhibit of the junior portfolios of notables in the business--people who had made it big, who were hot.

I remember looking at the books and seeing their ads and saying to myself, "Oh, I see how they're work is a degree or two or three better than mine."

Then I got to Patrick Kelly's book.

Patrick Kelly had just won about a dozen gold pencils for his Federal Express work with Mike Tesch, including 'Fast Talking Man.'

His book was nothing but scribbles on ripped and oddly-shaped shards torn from a brown-paper bag. Every line was scintillating. Every idea was different.

Even among the best, there is often a sameness.

There is comfort in sameness. Agencies thrive on orthodoxy.

I guess statisticians call this 'regression to the mean.'

But no good comes from drinking kool-aid.

Unless you're advertising kool-aid.
BTW, here's a link to Tom Messner's tribute on Patrick Kelly on his induction into the One Club Hall of Fame. Kelly/Messner Tribute

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