Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Stark reminder.

In advertising today we're often directed to "think big." 

Mostly that imperative, however, is followed by some contradictory sentences. 

Think big in small space.
Think big in four hours.
Think big for cheap.

When I was a young man in the business, the name Evan Stark was spoken with reverence bordering on awe. He was regarded by many of the big names in advertising as advertising's funniest writer.

But this post isn't about Stark being funny. 

It's about Stark figuring out a way to do more with less. A vital lesson in today's world and any other. A lesson that has everything to do with what was once the essence of good communication: craft and creativity. Surprise and consistency. And simply, doing something different to, you know, get noticed.

This post was inspired by Stark, of course, but also by two friends who keep great blogs.

1. Dave Dye who creates his amazing "Stuff From the Loft" blog and in particular his post from not long ago on Stark.


2. Rich Siegel, my Culver City compatriot and doyen of the unsurpassed RoundSeventeen blog. Rich wrote a brilliant post on Wednesday about the ad below--which started me thinking about overcoming obstacles with ingenuity.

This ad, small space, appeared it the Tuesday, December 2, on page A9 of The New York Times. It's pretty hard not be stopped by it, to read it, and to click on it. Despite the purported unlikeliness of someone actually typing in a url from a print ad, I'll bet people did. (I'll bet even more people got a smile from it.)

This ad, of course, reminds the well-informed of this one, that explorer Ernest Shackleton purportedly ran more than a century ago. (Excuse the gendered-nature of the ad below.)

Small. Responsive. Well-written. Memorable.

Now, to Stark and his early--as in early 60's work, for a small wine brand. You can imagine this one wasn't much larger than a postage stamp.

Subsequent ads ran and ran and ran. All funny. All stopping. All powerful. All look-forward-to-able.

I hear a lot of bushwa today about "social natives." 

Apparently you have to be after a certain year to write snappy attention-getting lines that stop people and get some sort of reaction or even a sale.

From the Lascaux cave drawings, to Evan Stark ads that ran in the 60s to the Kuiper Belt ad that ran on Tuesday, creative people have always come up with brilliant ways to do a lot with a little.

It's a rare talent, I'll give you that.

It's something we all should work on.

But it ain't new. 

And it ain't generational.

It's called creative.

In sum:

Think big.

And think small.

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