John Hegarty’s advertising magic

TRENDAFRiCA March 1, 2013

Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) founder and advertising creative, Sir John Hegarty, was a keynote speaker at Design Indaba 2013 this week. He’s the adman responsible for iconic campaigns like Nick Kamen’s laundrette spot for Levi Strauss and Audi’s immortal Vorsprung durch Technik slogan.

His book on advertising is punted as akin to the legendary David Ogilvy’s ‘Confessions of an advertising man’. Hegarty’s book is self-titled: ‘Hegarty on advertising – turning intelligence into magic’.

These are some of the Hegarty bon mots that we like…

  • Creativity isn’t about predictability – it has to surprise and challenge, it has to be daring and yet motivating.
  • One day, if you play your cards right (or perhaps wrong) you might be a creative director. It is the most thankless, trying and difficult task you’ll ever undertake in your creative career.
  • You have to accept the creative process is completely dysfunctional. If you deny that fact, you will ultimately fail.
  • Creativity is a manic construction of absurd, unlikely irreverent thoughts and feelings that somehow, when put together, change the way we see things. That’s why it’s magic.
  • Do interesting things and interesting things happen to you.
  • Creativity isn’t an occupation, it’s a pre-occupation.
  • I have always said that 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. Out of that absurd, crazy process pops a brilliant thought: that’s where the magic emerges.
  • The unpredictability is what makes what we do in advertising so exciting.
  • Creativity isn’t a process, advertising is a process. Process is trying to make order out of chaos. Creativity is trying to make chaos to create order. They are at opposite ends of a spectrum.
  • Creativity can change the way we feel about something and will stay with us for eternity.
  • When irreverence touches design it creates opportunities for producing genuinely innovative and lasting work.
  • How do you create your own culture? People try invent it. Sometimes it just happens to you.
  • In whatever you do, create your own playing field.
  • Humour has an important role to play in advertising. We use it because it’s a way of making people relax and listen. When your audience is in that state of mind they’re more likely to remember what you’re saying and act upon it.
  • As society constantly changes and as brands and products constantly innovate, it becomes the responsibility of the creative person to capture the essence of that change and the opportunity it offers.
  • Irreverence is more than a tool for communication, it is an essential ingredient for corporate success and forms the core of a philosophical approach to creativity – a belief in something that helps me create challenging, persuasive thinking.
  • It’s essential for a creative company to have a point of view and a philosophical foundation for their work.
  • The greatest spur to creating ideas is confidence, specifically the confidence in your ability to make magic. That’s the one truth a creative organisation must hold on to.
  • It is also important to remember ideas are just energy. That’s what makes them so attractive and engaging, and why people are drawn to them and why they have such power.
  • People who succeed in advertising are entrepreneurial.
  • Storytelling is fundamental to the way we receive and take in information… our opportunity is to get it out and about in different ways.
  • If only this business we are in could be scientific, clients would love it. Salesmanship is an art and it always will be an art… it goes against what clients want it to be.
  • Collaboration rapidly descends into cooperation. There is a view today that anyone can have a great idea. Like crowdsourcing. Great creative work is the result of somebody’s individual passion to drive something through. That isn’t about collaboration, but a vision to create something great.
  • I applaud anyone’s desire to open my eyes, to make me look at things afresh and bring different ideas to my attention. But it must be done with sincerity, integrity and with sympathy – or the danger is it can look as though it’s just exploitation.
  • As creative people we have to strive constantly to get others to reconsider, to re-evaluate. But we must do so in a way that is constructive, not destructive.

Source: Sir John Hegarty, Design Indaba 2013; ‘Hegarty on advertising – turning intelligence into magic’.


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