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The 3 Books That Got Me Into Advertising

02/11/2009
My cover had a picture of a desk cluttered with joints and marker pens. 51cz9f01q8l_ss500_5 lv_boo0152
Click a book to buy.

I spent a lot of time as a kid in the 70s hanging around my dad’s agency annoying the art directors and eating the apples at reception (he co-owned a Leo Burnett). Even so, I was less keen on advertising than I was on animation and marine biology. It was only after coming across these three books as a teenager that I started to realize that the industry might be cool…

From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbour Jerry Della Femina

I found this collection of tall tales from Mad Ave among my parents’ paperbacks when I was about 12. It convinced me that advertising was cra-azy and rebellious – the last refuge of the irresponsible. (The title comes from a joke headline presented to, I think, a Sony client.)

Advertising is the most fun you have with your clothes on.” – Jerry Della Femina

“Remember Those Great Volkswagen Ads?” Alfredo Marcantonio, David Abbot & John O’Driscoll

As a boarder at school in Sydney I would spend the occasional weekend with Faie Davis, who would later become my first creative director. She was kind of my “cool aunt”. She had a chic harbor-front pad and a fantastic collection of books and magazines, many featuring nudity. While searching for tits and bums I came across this fantastic collection of classic VW ads from Bill Bernbach and Helmut Krone‘s time at DDB. I was struck by the wit and honesty of course, but also impressed by the idea that advertising could be well-regarded enough to put in a book.

vw_ad_4

“So you men with unbridled imagination and a craving for action – move away from the crowd. At a reasonable price.” – copy for Chrysler Dodge Monaco, 1966

Jungle Fever Jean-Paul Goude

Another classic from Faie’s bookshelf. I searched 15 years for a copy and finally found one staring at me from the door of a second-hand bookshop in Sydney’s Oxford Street. Not really about advertising, Jungle Fever is Goude’s chronicle of his enduring fascination with black women and Hispanic culture. Nonetheless, it was my first introduction to the true possibilities of commercial art.

Pre-Photoshop, mind you

“All of her, including the most intimate parts of her body, were perfectly drawn, like sculpture. A masterpiece of nature. Naturally I set about to see what I could do to improve her.” – Jean-Paul Goude, Jungle Fever

dogilvy

David Ogilvy‘s books on advertising also made a big impression, but only after I’d entered the biz. His approach is undoubtedly sound but lacks a certain je ne c’est quoi

Ogilvy vs. Bernbach

“I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information.” – David Ogilvy
“Logic and over-analysis can sterilize an idea. It’s like love – the more you analyze it, the faster it disappears” – Bill Bernbach
“Pussy is God.” – Jean-Paul Goude

Goude