Tuesday, 17 April 2012

em on hegarty on advertising

i've been reading about advertising again. this time sir john hegarty was the master of ceremonies and this post will share with you the facts and ideas that he shared with me.

in his own words: "creativity in advertising is all about the power of reduction. write less, say more." so i've condensed his book into a blogpost. how d'ya like them apples sir? i've skimmed over hegarty's history, rise to big boss man at bbh and other personal shares and divided it into topics rather than the chapters from the book.


the essence of a truly creative company is innovation - survival of the smartest.

i define creativity as an ‘expression of self’. you cannot create great work unless a little bit of you goes into it, be it your heart, your soul or your beliefs. uniqueness must also go into your creativity. ultimately it’s just common sense and a desire to excite people.

i do my best thinking when i’m not thinking: that’s when inspiration strikes. you’ve already fed all the issues, concerns, wishes and desires of the brief into your mind - then you just have to let it percolate.

you have to accept the creative process is completely dysfunctional.

to earn your living being creative it takes fearlessness. fear of failure has to be dismissed and faith in your idea has to be paramount.


irreverence was the common thread that was clearly identifiable in all the work i did and in the work of others that i admired.

when irreverence touches design it creates opportunities for producing genuinely innovative and lasting work but using irreverence for its own sake is dangerous. do that and you risk becoming irrelevant. if irreverence becomes purely anarchic it eventually turns in on itself and destroys its own purpose, it just shocks and alienates.

by expressing a sense of humour and wit i alienate you less and begin to make you consider the purpose of my irreverence.

humour and irreverence feed off each other and enhance each other’s message. when put together, they have the ability to become more persuasive.

what makes a great advertising agency?

advertising is trying to get people to make a choice - a choice between one product and another. we are also trying to get them to accept new concepts and to ‘reconsider’. the key is never to stop thinking like your audience.

an agency whose creative directors come and go is an agency destined to failure. you are a creative business, as opposed to a business with a creative department.

the communications industry should always be at the forefront of change by stimulating debate, provoking a response and, as a consequence, inevitably courting controversy.

if creativity is at the heart of a company’s offering then being creative about how that company delivers it to their employees is also essential. if this company is not constantly evolving and expanding, then it is dying.

if a brand isn’t constantly seeking new markets, broadening its appeal and building its fame, then it will slowly die. the secret of brand success is a constant restlessness.

the only advertising book in the book warehouse & only two nananane
incidentally not my copy


the responsibility of the creative person is to capture the essence of the constant change of society as well as the opportunities it offers. we strive constantly to reconsider, to re-evaluate in a way that is constructive, not destructive, to capture people’s imagination and, of course, their attention.

you have to be constantly intrigued by the world around you and what it offers. i work in advertising, i don’t live in advertising. look beyond the confines of your own industry. you can learn so much from the experience of others who are masters in their particular field or endeavour. fish in different ponds and you’ll catch different fish.

audiences want to be entertained, engaged, amused, titillated. they want to interact, enthuse and be passionate! and they want it to be constantly and consistently new.

the combination of story and music has been one of advertising’s most powerful tools as communication has become more emotionally based.

we won the pitch by simply reconnecting the brand with its heritage. brands more often than not go wrong because they lose touch with their roots and the values and qualities that made them successful. you don’t just look to the past and stay there, but you let the past influence a brand’s future.


far from destroying advertising, technology is opening up multitudes of ways we can communicate. technology has accelerated people’s desires, not changed them. caution is replaced by daring. conservatism by creativity. linking established media to the digital world is the holy grail of marketing. technology has always been a spur to creativity and shouldn’t be feared.

‘new’ isn’t a point of difference, it’s a moment in time.

obsessing about one medium versus another is a waste of energy - it is the cultivation and management of ideas, and the people who generate them, that is the crucial factor.

our sense of place and our sense of belonging will never be replaced by technology. it will add to it, expand it, but never replace it. it’s not the technology that matters, but what we do with it.

the digital revolution certainly was a revolution. never before had we seen such a rapid and seismic change in how we communicate. it would be madness to deny its presence, as it seems some people want to do. embrace its values and meanings with intelligence and common sense.

technology will continue to impact on our business, but worrying about it is pointless.

one of the most exciting things about our world today is the number of ways to reach an audience, the ways we can continue a dialogue and how that can influence the market.

the future

pitching for a company’s business is an opportunity to help them understand where they’re going to be in five to ten years’ time. companies are afraid of the future, even though that’s where success lies. it’s essential that brands remain constantly youthful because if you’re youthful you have a future. you own tomorrow, nobody invests in yesterday.

it no longer takes vast quantities of cash to reach large groups of people, but it does require inventiveness, daring and creativity.

consistency in a creative company has to relate to the quality of thinking, not to the continued use of one particular technique.

there’s very little sentiment for yesterday, you’re only as good as your next idea.

bbh’s future is built on the quality of our ideas.

as technology changes so much around us, our task is still to find ways to unite people. and the way you unite them is with ideas that capture their imagination: that’s as it is, as it’s always been and as it always will be.

No comments:

Post a Comment