The penultimate day of the International Festival of Creativity 2013 kicked off with Michael Wolff, media columnist, USA Today, moderating a session featuring George Lois, master communicator, and Lee Clow, global director of media arts, TBWA\ Worldwide and chairman TBWA\ Media Arts Labs.
Wolff ran short montage videos consisting of some of their iconic work to introduce the duo, if they needed one.
‘I got out of the womb and said advertising’
First up, the duo was asked by Wolff, if they would join advertising again, in the present day.
Clow, said, “Absolutely! How else could I have the fun I’ve had in my life? I took a pay cut from my job as a bowling alley cleaner to join advertising!”
Lois mused, “I came out of the womb and the first thing I said was, advertising!"
‘Hard to define advertising now’
Speaking about the current advertising scenario, Clow said, “It’s hard to define advertising right now. It’s very difficult for professionals to put their names on work right now, because of the involvement of various hands.”
He added, “A lot of this new media is still in its beginning stage. Artists have still not been able to discover how to use the new media. Clients are very confused about what to do when they hear digital and social media. The ability for brands to express themselves has got more complex. Every touch point of the brand is an advertisement.”
Lois said, “The name of the game is still creativity. I believe technology is just a tool to get things done faster.”
He also spoke of the work culture in advertising agencies right now. “You walk in to an agency, and you see 10 people sitting in the same room, listening to music and indulging themselves in some sort of group thinking. I’d rather have one person sitting at home and concentrating by himself to think about the idea.”
Lois also spoke of people from the industry often complaining about clients not letting them be more creative. He said, “That’s not done. You have to have the courage to fight for your work.”
‘The better the copywriter, the tougher it was to work’
“Me. I’m my best partner, when I’m working on my own,” said Lois, when asked about his best working partner.
“The better the copywriter was, the tougher it was to work. A complicated line would make it very difficult for me to execute things. By the time the copywriter and I would come to consensus, I would rather write the line on my own,” he explained.
The duo then touched upon about another advertising legend, Bill Bernbach, founder of DDB.
Clow described him as the person who ‘liberated advertising’, while Lois called him a ‘creative freak’. The sincerity of their admiration was palpable.
On the high points of their careers, Lois joked that he would have to do ‘Eenie Meenie Miney Mo’ to pick those before speaking about a campaign for MTV in the 1980’s.
“MTV back then was great. Everything was perfect, except they were not broadcasting to anyone. No one in the USA subscribed to them and the channel was close to shutting. We worked on the brand. It clearly shows that great advertising can lead to marketing miracles,” said Lois.
Clow’s choice of career highlight was working with the late Steve Jobs: “Working with him was great. Jobs believed when he was 25, that technology could be put one’s back pocket and carried around. I’ll never forget the ‘Think Different’ campaign.”
Nor will ad land, as it pays tribute to the man behind the best advertising from Apple at Cannes this year.