Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Henny Youngman on Advertising.

There's an old Henny Youngman one-liner (how's that for a redundancy) that goes like this: "I haven't spoken to my wife for 30 years...I don't want to interrupt her."

The longer I stay embroiled in agency life, the clearer it becomes to me that that joke works not just for gabby wives and beleaguered husbands, but also for our industry.

Everyone at every juncture and at every level in every agency I've ever been cosigned to, is so avid to show how smart they are, that listening, that consideration, that moderation have gone the way of the dodo bird.

I'm often asked to help young writers with the "craft" of actually writing. Mostly I tell them to sit back in their chairs and relax. To not try to hard to prove something through every bit they write. To breathe and think and listen and ponder before they attempt to dazzle you with their fucking brilliance.

In fact, it seems to me that there's no longer any sort of communication in agencies today and between agencies and clients. All we do is interrupt each other.

Regardless of how you feel about the Richards' Group Super Bowl spot "So God Made a Farmer," it asked you to listen. It gave pause. It invited you to think and feel.

Their solution to the surround of noise wasn't to be noisier. It was to be quieter. And by being quiet to be commanding.

I don't think it's that hard.

Be quiet.

Let others talk themselves into a corner.

When they have, take over.


It's the opposite of interruption.


Tore Claesson said...

True it is. And one thing that's gone out the window is the "apprenticeship" part. Before we started as assistants. We we trained by the seniors. in our line of work. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems that is no longer the case. Now everybody, from day one, is thrown into gang bangs, seniors and juniors and interns, and the result of it is presented in mass meetings where the work "develops" by committee, or as you suggest, by the loudest voice in the room, which isn't always the most competent one. It's certain not a thoughtful approach. I am afraid it fosters the wrong skills. You can't sit back and be natural. You will be misunderstood and ignored. We live in an era of stunts.

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