From right to left: John Marin (creative visionary for the great and genuine brand CLIF Bar), Bob Seebahar (sports dietitian and USA Triathlon Certified Elite Coach) Gary Erickson (founder of CLIF Bar, and one of the really good guys in the business and sport world), and me. We're taking a quick timeout during the Ragnar Relay Race, "Wasatch Back", a 200 mile over-night endurance running race. I'm shooting it not running it, by the way.
A person only has to flip the cover of Vol. 6, to reveal the new ad. It'll be in the usual spot, inside cover spread. A state-of-the-art timesaver was built right into the ad, we call it, 'No Body Copy'.
My whole life, I've never been one to hold fine details in my head. Years, names, historical facts, baseball stats, they fascinate me, but I don't prioritize them high enough, to be front and center. I would rather remember every detail of the bioluminescent waters I saw crossing the Gulf Stream while sailing to Havana. I'm visual. This little flaw of mine, made my chances of making good grades unfavorable, which did bother me a whole lot.
Less day-dreaming, more details, I used to think. Be smart. But one day my attitude changed on the spot, and I was put at ease. I saw a poster, the standard and classic, 16x24" paper poster (I can't recall where it was hanging). It was a bleed, black & white photo, a headshot of Albert Einstein. At the bottom, in seriffed type, was his quote, "Imagination is more important than wisdom."
Unabashedly I can say the 'motivational poster' motivated me. If Albert Einstein thought my imagination was a vital asset to the world, then that was good enough for me. I charged forward, with my desire to think the way I wanted to think, and let my imagination go wherever it damn well wanted to go.
I let go.
Now days, I have it both ways, I have a tsunami-sized store of those fine details. Name it. Any subject; I've got the facts. Did I change my way of thinking? No, I've got an iphone and wikipedia.
I constantly study myself. I make mental notes on what makes me a better thinker. I'm like a picky house plant, only the precise amount of water and light will allow me to survive and thrive. My sketchpad makes me a better thinker. Music does sometimes. Silence does sometimes. Travel always makes me a better thinker, because in my mind, it's the best form of education. I render pictures in my head while reading, so books definitely make me a better thinker. Movies; yes. So does my, 'wall of inspiration' (that's a descriptor, not a proper noun). Of the fifteen, or so, places I've called 'home', ever since I can remember, I have had at least one wall transformed into a large collage. This collage is where I place visuals I find visually ALIVE. Mostly it's compiled of magazine clippings. I love flipping through magazines on any subject, and trimming out good design, architecture, photos, typography, quotes, drawings, color swatches. I throw caution to the wind,and mar that drywall with stainless steel thumbtacks; hundreds, and hundreds, of them. My shrine-of-aesthetically-pleasing-things grows and spreads like Boston ivy, until it takes over the room. That wall of precious clutter gives my eyes a place to settle, when I need a creative tip.
Recently, I realized I hadn't added to my wall lately. I had let my magazine subscriptions run out. That will change. I hope paper magazines stick around for a long time.
How important is the PICTURE? In terms of marketing, a logical place to find the answer to that question would be to dissect the most recognizable and effective brand campaign in the history of marketing, Marlboro. What is the Marlboro campaign, but artful pictures of cowboys in a mythic version of the American West? I'm not oversimplifying anything when I state the fact that Marlboro has sold billions of dollars worth of product by using three ingredients: a picture, a logo, and a tag ("Come to where the flavor is", "This is Marlboro Country"). Talk about, "keep it simple"! And, they've been doing it for 58 years (still going strong in Eastern Europe and Asia). But, not just any picture; the right one, and one that's, powerful, likable, believable, original, memorable, authentic, branded, story-lined, consistent, strategic, aspirational, and extraordinary. In marketing, words are overrated. Words take too long. Pictures tell a story in an international language, and if a cigarette brand isn't convincing enough, then we can discuss Apple, Nike, or many other industry leading brands that depend on and thrive, on their good looks.