A few months back I posted a piece that I simple titled "What Every Advertising Student Should Watch", the posting was based on the "portfolio show" episode of the recently introduced webcast FearlessQA from Alex Bogusky and CP+B. Much to my surprise between my Blogger and Posterous blogspots I have had over 3,500 visits to that specific topic. Since that original post I also posted a message about finding how you define yourself, are you a "Student of Advertising" or an "Advertising Student".
Yet again, FearlessQA has hit another "Homer Run" with this episode on "Old School" advertising. Odd title on first glimpse, but the as the subject unfolded... WOWzer, it easily became "What Every Student of Advertising Should Watch Part Two - Alex Bogusky with CP+B Creative Directors Dave Swartz and Bill Wright.
The show was promoted on the idea of "Old School", upon first hearing this some of my students suggested we tell Alex to think about "dressing" the role, kinda "Don Draper" like. Well that's not what show delivered (nice hat Alex). Yes, "old school" was the concept... but message was timeless. Timeless because it is truly what every "Student of Advertising" should know. It may even seem that Alex and his guest are "old school" but in fact they are the "bridge" between old school and today as we move forward.
"Old School is not about doing it for a long time... it's more about what we have done and have forgotten... the craft of the business"I remember my first informational and job interviews and being asked, "who did I follow... who inspired me"? Seemed like a trick question, but I knew the answer needed, I needed to demonstrate how I developed my craft. Who inspired me was about the past, while who do I follow was for identifying my knowledge of the moment. Oddly, my response was always quick and simple. The people who created the craft of "the big idea", Bill Bernbach, David Olgilvy, George Lois, Rosser Reeves and Leo Burnett, they inspired me. As an Art Director I studied Herb Lubalin and the art of typography, Helmut Krome, Paul Rand, they inspired the craft of Art Direction. That was my "school", neither "old" or "current"... it was my education. (Note: My Professor Ken Coleman actual inspired me to travel to New York to have my portfolio reviewed by both Herb Lubalin and Milton Glaser who at the time was the Design Director of the Village Voice, today viewed as the "old testiment" of old school.
"Creative's must blend the craft and the knowledge of what has come before them and what is happening now... if you don't have that perspective, then something will get lost".
- Alex Bogusky FearlessQA
What makes this episode a "must watch", is the insights of what you should be reading. I take some heat about having a "suggested" reading list that is about 100 books deep, but really where will you find it one place. Sadly, I see too many hours wasted on "Ads of the World", a wonderful site, but the navigation through "real" and "spec" ads can be cumbersome. But, does it really teach you about the craft? No, there is not point of reference, that is why the good old "book" on the shelf can't be beat. Between the covers is the story of "How".
"I'm speaking from a person who has no respect for advertising that has come before because of craft... just blow it up... blow it up... over and over... advertising is supposed to be timely, it's supposed to be about the NOW... but know the people and know the thinking... because they blew it up before you blow it up and before I blew it up... you're not going to be able to blow things up unless you know and understand the thinking behind the idea. Study the masters of the trade".
- Alex Bogusky FearlessQA
Bill Wright started at CP+B as a copywriter showed two books that should top everyone's book list. First, "The Book of Gossage" and "The Art of Writing Advertising". Both have been referred to as "the Bible of the Craft of Copywriting". Howard Luck Gossage is commonly referred to as the father of the "Conversational Style" of advertising. The book is more then just a guide to better creative thinking but it displays the thinking any creative needs to understand. "The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interest them, and sometimes it's an ad” once said to describe what he needed to use as a baseline in any ad he approached. Gossage is often attributed with a line I often quote in lecture, "To explain responsibility to advertising is like trying to convince an eight-year-old that sexual intercourse is more fun than a chocolate ice cream cone", it's what we do, but we never clearly understand that. I guess it comes down to 'know your audience".
David Swartz has his roots is graphic design and joined CP+B as an art director. What brought great joy to me was seeing one of my favorite books appear, Herb Lubalin - Art Director, Graphic Designer and Typographer. This brilliant book was the soul of my development, sadly out of print now (if you can find it, you're looking at $350+ for a copy) it showed why in my book Herb Lubalin was a brilliant art director and designer who, for over forty years, produced a continuous stream of stunning graphic design and in particular expressive typographic ideas. So what makes a great art director? No simple answer was offered but, you need a grand sense of design. You need to study design because you are the backbone of the big idea, the bodygaurd. Understand the concept of "Hierarchy" and "Order", find out and clearly understand what that means, what order does the message need to be delivered. Maybe that's why the best art directors come from art schools and having studied graphic design and typography. Sadly, Dave and Alex do make it clear that maybe technology has ruined the craft of art direction.
I can't express enough why this episode of FearlessQA which could have been a "trip down memory lane" will hopefully remain a "standard" for all "students of advertising" as what you need to know to truly succeed.
BTW... I tried to keep up with the boys and their "bourbon", they drank me under the table.
The Book of Gossage by Howard Luck Gossage; Jeff Goodby and Bruce Bendinger
The Art of Writing Advertising by Denis Higgins
Herb Lubalin - Art Director, Graphic Designer & Typographer by Gertrude Snyder & Alan Peckolick
The Bill Bernbach Book by Bob Levenson
The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy by
When Advertising Tried Harder by Lawrence Dobrow
Creative Advertising by Mario Pricken
The Advertising Concept Book by Pete Barry
Hey Whipple Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan
History of Advertising by Stephane Pincas
Twenty Ads That Shock the World: The Century's Most Groundbreaking Advertising and How it Changes Us All by Bill Twitchell