Door Herbert van Hoogdalem
. Eigenlijk zou die checklist natuurlijk moeten bestaan uit slechts één regel: Gewoon doen!
Maar als iemand weet welke valkuilen er op de loer kunnen liggen, ben ik ik het wel. Schade, schande – dat soort dingen. Nu hebben we bij Purple Cows
weinig te klagen, met zo’n stormachtige groei
. Het was (en is) best buffelen, dat wel. Maar van hard werken is nog nooit iemand doodgegaan.
Omdat ik langzaam op de leeftijd kom dat ik het toverstokje aan de nieuwe generatie ga doorgeven (nou ja, er een beginnetje mee ga maken dan), wilde ik jullie even wijzen op de 25 geheugensteuntjes van zo’n beetje de grondlegger van het reclamevak in Nederland: Morton Kirschner
. Morton begon het legendarische bureau KVH in de jaren 60 en leidde daar vele grootheden op – onder wie Hans Goedicke
, aan wie ik weer veel te danken heb bij het begin van mijn carriere. Ik mocht ooit met Morton’s zoon Kenneth
werken bij Bruns van der Wijk
, waar ik hoorde over Morton’s rules
. Kenneth maakte later als eerbetoon aan zijn vader het boek The Holy Bible of Advertising
wat ik sinds afgelopen vrijdag weer in mijn bezit heb (jaja, ik ben copywriter, geen fotograaf of art director – kan er ook niks aan doen, dat fotootje).
De 25 regels van Morton zijn stuk voor stuk, woord voor woord, letter voor letter, nog steeds wáár. Elke dag, elk uur, elke seconde weer. Voor iedereen die het nu aan het proberen is of het binnenkort gáát proberen, wil ik er nog één regel aan toevoegen: Never Give Up
(behalve het roken, dan).
In the past years many advertising people have told me that agencies like KVH don’t exist anymore. That is a great compliment and a great shame. When I was offered this space I thought it was a good idea to explain what it was that made KVH. I thought it might stimulate some of today’s agencies to re-evaluate themselves, or even better it might stimulate someone to start a new agency a la KVH. So here it goes. To make it easier, I’ll give you 25 simple rules to help you create an agency just like KVH.
1. BORROW A BERNBACH PHILOSOPHY AND KEEP TO IT
. If I put Bernbach’s thoughts together, they make a fantastic agency philosophy. I summed them up in my description of EXCELLENT advertising: a very original idea, based on a consumer benefit, tasteful copy and art, consumer uplifting, informative and believable.
2. LET THE CREATIVE PEOPLE RUN THE AGENCY
. The only product an agency has is its campaigns. Isn’t it logical then that the people who make the product should decide the conditions and atmosphere where that product is made.
3. FORGET REVIEW BOARDS
. If the creatives are running the agency, they don’t have to review the work, because they made it. If reviews are held for account people you have a guarantee that the most shocking, and usually the best work will be rejected.
4. OVERSTAFF THE CREATIVE DEPARTMENT
. The product is creativity, so you need lots of creative chances. You can compensate the costs by not having TV producers, art buyers, creative secretaries and expensive offices.
5. MAKE ANOTHER CAMPAIGN ONE HOUR BEFORE THE PRESENTATION
. Even if a campaign is internally agreed, don’t stop creating. You’ll never know if you could have made a better one unless you try. After all, the better the campaigns the more product is sold and it’s better for the image of the agency.
6. DON’T MAKE ADVERTISING
. Advertising is full of beautiful people, life styles, gimmicks and clichés; just like 99% of what you see today. That’s not what you’re going to make, is it? You’ll keep it simple, keep it truthful and keep it informative. You won’t make advertising. You will communicate.
7. DON’T SPEND TIME AT CONGRESSES OR OTHER INDUSTRY MEETINGS
. You get good clients from your work, not your sociability. Of course, you’ll never build a big agency, but who cares. Medium size is the only size that is controllable if you want to stay creative.
8. WRITE THE CREATIVE STRATEGY AFTER THE CAMPAIGN IS MADE
. That’s the only way to give yourself room to analyze and create outstanding work. Usually strategies are written by people who can only create strait-jackets for creative people.
9. ADMIT THAT YOU’RE AN ARTIST
. And as an artist you have the responsibility to bring good taste over to the public. Remember that one of your ads will be seen and read by more people than have ever seen Picasso’s Guernica.
10. NEVER LOOK FOR ACCOUNT OR CREATIVE PEOPLE
. Once you have created the right atmosphere through constantly producing outstanding work, account and creative will come to you. Good account people want good work under their arm. Good creative people have no other choice.
11. NEVER HIRE MARKETING EXPERTS
. Marketing is semi science, and advertising is an art. The two don’t mix , marketing people like to impose rules, creative people like to break rules. We once hired one and it was a disaster.
12. FRUSTRATE YOUR COPYWRITERS AND YOUR STUDIO
. Perfection has priority over production, so ask the copywriter to re-write until the type fits perfect! Ask the studio to do 2 or more extra paste-ups to see which looks better. Waste of time? No, the consumer can feel when an ad is well made and that feeling of excellence flows over to the product.
13. DON’T TRY TO ENTERTAIN
. You’re in the business of selling products, not the entertainment business. Of course, if your product story can be strengthened with humor, use it. Also present your story in a friendly way, but just trying to sell by entertaining is as dishonest as trying to sell with a made up image.
14. ONLY PRESENT ADVERTISING THAT APPEALS TO YOU
. Never worry about that the consumer or client will like. You are the advertising professional. If you like it, it’s good. Only one warning: if it doesn’t work, then you should start thinking about getting out of the business.
15. DON’T EVER RESEARCH
. Find clients that believe in your work and will place what you make. If your work works, they stay. If it doesn’t, they leave. This method also keeps your agency a reasonable size with less worries and more gratification.
16. GIVE BAD BRIEFINGS
. If a briefing is too complete, creatives have no challenge. A bad briefing leaves room for self-investigation which stimulates and leaves more openings to create thought provoking, outstanding advertising.
17. CONVINCE YOUR MEDIA DEPARTMENT THAT SIZE AND IMPACT ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN REACH
. It is always better to impress a few people than to bore a lot. Full-page newspapers, double-page color, long commercials, they give more impact to the product and more impact to your agency presentation.
18. DON’T HAVE MANAGEMENT OR STAFF MEETINGS
. In an agency of 40-50 people, communication should be easy. If you hired the right people, they can run their own departments. Management meetings make the staff nervous. A good agency has an open “everyone’s responsible” attitude.
19. JUDGE ADVERTISING BY THE “GULP” TEST
. If the client’s “Adamsappel” doesn’t bounce up and down a few times after seeing your campaign, you have failed the test. If the client doesn’t react, neither will the consumer.
20. MAKE TOO MANY CAMPAIGNS
. This sounds like a waste of time, but it increases your chance to make a real breakthrough. That’s worth the extra time and carton. It’s also a good idea to make a number of proposals that have nothing to do with the briefing. After all a briefing isn’t law, it’s only what the client thinks and expects to see answered.
21. TRY TO WIN A PRIZE WITH EVERY AD
. There are agencies and clients that think that the prizes are unimportant (they usually never won one), but for creative people they are. The challenge to make excellent advertising keeps the creative juices flowing, and the end result can be impact for the client’s media money.
22. DON’T ACCEPT CAUTIOUS CLIENTS
. The only way great advertising can be made is if a client believes in its agency and gives it a free hand to try for the ultimate for that client. Unfortunately, there are few of these brave clients around. They are usually found in medium size companies where the originator is still boss. Beware of the big clients that “think” they are looking for a creative agency.
23. CREATE COMPETITION WITHIN THE AGENCY
. Closed doors, and a “keep away from my work” attitude are killing in a creative agency. Doors should be open. Groups should criticize each other. Alternate campaigns should be made. Arguing, even fighting can stimulate. Life is competition and competition can help bring out the best for the client and agency.
24. MAKE SURE YOUR STAFF IS AT LEAST 50% WOMEN
. This way the agency looks prettier and smells better. It’s also good for marriages and affairs. To keep the atmosphere even better, have offices in the middle of Amsterdam. There are more shops for the girls and more brown cafés and restaurants for the boys.
25. CREATE CAMPAIGNS LIKE
: “Liever naakt dan namaak.” – “Hou Holland mooi.” – “Wol, eerlijk materiaal.” – “Campari moet je gedronken hebben. Al is ’t maar eens in je leven.” – “Sony is klein in Nederland, daarom moeten we alles beter maken.” – “ Vergelijk en Sony wint.” – “Met Hoppe voel je je weer mens.” – “Coebergh, lekker drinken wat je lekker vindt.” – “Schat, staat de Bokma koud?” – “Soms is de trein zo gek nog niet.” – “Soms de auto, soms de trein.” – “Peugeot, Franse Gründlichkeit.” – “Alice in Duyvisland.” – “Wat doet goud voor uw vrouw?” – “Roxy dual, een gouden gedachte.” – “NRC Handelsblad onontkoombaar voor wie de nuance zoekt.” – “Zwarte Kip, lekker langzaam.” – “King Corn, het enige wat je weggooit is de verpakking.” – “Mam, ik ga bij Japie wonen.” etc.
If you are still interested in making an agency like KVH, remember that times have changed. If you follow my 25 rules and make a KVH today, people might think you are completely crazy … or wouldn’t they?
Herbert van Hoogdalem
is creative director bij Purple Cows Unlimited
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