The good old days …

Just looking at this photo has brought back all kinds of great memories. It was back in the 90’s — ’93 I’m thinking — and I was at an Ogilvy worldwide creative directors’ meeting. Jim, who’s  in the shot with me, was the creative director in our LA office.

He and I had met a year or two earlier, in New York, at David Ogilvy’s 80th birthday bash. Which is a whole other story. We (Jim and I) got along like a house on fire and we became fast Continue reading

Don’t take it personally …

I’ve been surrounded by creative people all my life, and I am one, myself.  And I’ve never known one, including me, who isn’t sensitive and easily hurt.  Guess it comes with slapthe territory.  We do lay our souls bare for everyone to see, after all.  And stomp all over.  Who wouldn’t be insecure?  So needless to say, today’s Daily Post resonated with me:

“Tell us about the harshest, most difficult to hear — but accurate — criticism you’ve ever gotten.  Does it still apply?”

Of course this could be taken any one of a number of ways.  The way you dress, the colour of your hair, your weight, your cooking skills, your breath, your driving, whatever.  But seeing as how we’re all here to share our creativity — be it writing or photography or art or baking or crafting — I thought I’d talk about how it feels when people criticize our work.

Having worked in the advertising industry as a writer/creative director for more years than I care to think about, I am VERY familiar with criticism.  While it sometimes feels like you’ve been slapped in the face, I have Continue reading

Day 250. Past. Present.

What a great morning I had yesterday.  Despite the monsoon.  Yet another monsoon.  We sure have had bizarre weather this week.  Major downpours, hailstorms, reunionssnow, strong winds.  All at the same time.  Day after day.  Pretty damn disgusting!

Will this winter EVER end?

But I’m not here to give you a weather report.

Yesterday, I met up with a gal I worked with a million years ago.  In another life time.  For both of us.  And if she hadn’t seen my blog posted on Facebook; and, dare I say, liked it enough to become a regular reader, it probably wouldn’t have happened.

From the first time we met, we instantly hit it off.  I was at Ogilvy and she was interviewing for a job.  We had a Continue reading

Day 195. Performance Anxiety

So.  Now you know my secret.  Yeah.  The proverbial cat’s out of the bag.  Even the mere thought of having to stand up in front of a crowd, or a group, and speak used presentingto be enough to send me into a tizzy.  To freak me right out.  To give me a huge case of the jitters.  To ruin my day.

You know, because yesterday I wrote about the first time I gave a speech.  What a nightmare it was.

Well, it didn’t get better, I’m sorry to say.  Not for a while.

Let’s fast forward to when I moved to Toronto, in 1985.  To work for Ogilvy (ad agency).  And the first MAJOR client presentation I was in, after getting there.  I was working on American Express.  Major, in itself.  Cardmember benefits are a vitally important part of their business, or at least it was back then.  Don’t know about now.

It was important because their exclusive selection of benefits was a huge competitive advantage for them.  It was one of the reasons consumers wanted to carry the card.  The project I was working on, was the launch of four new benefits.

Very important.

Which, in itself, was enough to give me a heart burn.

We worked on it for several weeks.  It was tough to crack.  Tons of extremely late nights and weekends at the office.  Finally, we Continue reading

Day 143. Love, Actually

Nope.  Don’t go jumping to any conclusions.  This has nothing to do with either Hugh Grant or the movie (in which he appeared) of the same name.  We’re just daysyearning away from a brand new year, and I’ve been reflecting, that’s all.

Thinking about 2012, and how it’s been.  Not the ‘world’ view.  How it’s been for me.  What I accomplished.  What remains undone.  People I’ve met.  Friends I’ve lost.  Frustrations.  Disappointments.  Victories.  Where to go from ‘here’.

That took me to ‘blessings’ I should be counting.  Not that much of a stretch, really.  Which, in turn, led me to ‘favourites’.  Favourite moments, favourite experiences, favourite lessons learned.  Favourite ‘things’.  Songs, films, food, shoes, etcetera etcetera etcetera.

Again, not a stretch.

Next thing I knew I was back at Ogilvy, remembering two of my favourite television commercials.  One was for American Express, the other for Jaguar.  Wrong, Continue reading

Day 134. Mind Blowing

One of the first assignments I had at Ogilvy was writing a direct mail package for a financial institution.  A Trust company.  In fact, it was a multi-wave campaign, mailmeaning, over a period of a couple of months there were three separate letters sent to the same people.

It was a time when there were a lot of ‘take-overs’ in the investment industry.  The losers, of course, were the customers.  Because there were problems during the transition periods, as there often are.  Mistakes were made, long time relationships were ignored.  These investors felt under-appreciated and taken for granted.  They were pissed off.  And fed up.

Our client, who had not been a victim of a take-over, wanted to take advantage of the situation.  The idea was to demonstrate their understanding, and to extol their own corporate virtues.  And to explain all the services they offered, blah blah blah.  They were a very successful, credible institution, so it wasn’t a ‘stretch’.

I was very involved in developing the creative strategy, as well as writing the letters.  As a result, I was heavily invested (no pun intended) in the campaign’s success.  This was also my first foray into direct marketing.  I came out of a general advertising (awareness) background.

The first wave was mailed.  About two weeks later, the Account Director responsible for the account stopped by Continue reading

Day 122. Party Pooper

Hope this doesn’t make me sound like Scrooge or anything, but I’ve got to be honest.  ‘Tis the season for parties and I’d rather stick a fork in my eye.  Don’t get me santawrong.  I really like the Christmas season.  I can handle shortbread and mince tarts just fine.  Veggies and dips are good.  I’m even okay with fruit cake, especially the West Indian version, which is called rum cake.  For good reason, because the fruit steeps in it for a year.

Egg nog makes me gag, but I can usually get out of drinking that.

I’m fine with getting together with friends and family.  It’s company parties I’m referring to.  Oh, those are painful.  When I worked full time I used to DREAD the agency Christmas blow-outs!  To begin with, there could never just be a party.  There was always ‘business’ to attend to first.  The endless speeches and presentations.  The year-end business results.  The ‘highlights’ from the last twelve months.  As if we couldn’t remember them.

By the time it was done, you were in a coma (if you were lucky), and in desperate need of a drink. Because Management knew the only Continue reading

Day 39. Staying Connected

Everyone’s buzzing about social media. Mostly about Facebook, and its monetary value. I don’t know about that. What I do know, is what it’s worth to me.

To be honest, I don’t know how effective advertising on social media is, or isn’t. I don’t know if it builds brands as effectively as television advertising does. Or anything else, for that matter. Personally, I don’t think so; but truthfully, I haven’t a clue. I don’t know if ‘liking’ a fan page equates to either sales or brand loyalty. My guess is, no, it does not, at least not in most cases. But in all honesty, I have no idea.

Does having thousands and thousands of Twitter followers mean the network won’t cancel your show? Doubt it. But, really, how would I know? Will any of my blogs ever attract enough advertising to earn me a living? Probably not, but some do; and I suppose it could happen.

Will shares in Facebook ever be a good investment? I haven’t the foggiest. Ask Warren Buffett what he thinks. But here’s what I do know:

I love that, through Facebook, I reconnected with a woman I worked with, in my very first job. She was a seasoned pro back then, and she kindly, and generously, took me under her wing and showed me the ropes. When I left after a year she was still there. We met

Continue reading