We will get to the painting later. We need to go back 48 hours.
What I found interesting about the story was the fact that even though
time was up in the competition, he kept going. He didn't care about the
trophy. The trick was the prize. He tried to land it over and over and
on his tenth attempt, he nailed it. The competition was over but the
crowd went nuts. He had done something impossible. He had taken an extra
10 minutes to get to that invisible line in his head and changed the
It made me think what those 10 minutes were worth.
Imagine, he had stopped because the competition was over. How important
were those 10 minutes? How important is time?
In our business,
the question is always how long will something take. And these days,
there is definitely less time than there used to be.
Here is the
strange thing though. Every great piece of work I have ever seen made in
an agency had people who pushed and worked way beyond what was required
or reasonable. They were trying to get to that invisible line in their
head. They disregarded time to make something great. It's a type of
madness that many in our business don't understand or think is
important. But believe me, it is not an ingredient you can do without.
on your point of view, spending that time is either wasteful or very
necessary. What I believe is there has to be some level of obsession or
unreasonableness to get somewhere new or great. This is why creativity
is so difficult to commoditize. It is the antidote to patterns. Its job
is not to accept the way things are. This makes people uncomfortable.
advertising, we are very fond of talking about pushing the work. Go one
more round. However, lately, there are other narratives. One is that
advertising is dead. The other is that creativity might not be required.
Perhaps, it can be replaced. At the root of these narratives are always
money and time rather than any concern for the product.
Super Bowl Sunday in New York
I was thinking all of this, I found myself in the middle of New York. I
was lucky enough to have a ticket to the Skittles Commercial Broadway
Play. Instead of running a 5 million dollar ad on the Super Bowl, they
created a play. The year before, Skittles made an ad for just one
person. Both campaigns were very original, a lot of fun and very
successful. Some would say they were very risky or a little mad. Well,
that night I watched the Super Bowl for the first time in America. I
remember about 3 commercials from hundreds. There were a lot of
patterns. Celebrities etc. Some ads were genuinely awful. They were
boring and facsimile's of a hundred ads that have come before them.
Strangely, those are never seen as a big risk. Yet, for brands they are
the biggest risk of all.
thinking about being unreasonable and where it belongs in the modern
advertising landscape. Is there enough time to be unreasonable or is it
just too much trouble? What is the value of making an impact versus
frequency? My old boss used to say there is never time to do it properly
once but there is always enough time to do it averagely twice. He was
The next day I found myself staring at Van Gogh's hypnotic
Starry Night with hundreds of people at the MoMA. He painted it from an
asylum through barred windows over 120 years ago, yet it feels modern.
He was losing his mind. The scene doesn't exist. It is made up. The
village in the painting was painted from memory. I stared at it for a
very long time. I came to three conclusions.
The more I looked at the painting the more beautiful it got and the less I understood it.
There are no colour by numbers paintings in the MoMA.
A lot of people might not like or be comfortable with madness and obsession but it has value that is beyond measure.
Because it can change everything.