Thursday, April 15, 2010

"it beats parking cars"

I was lucky McCann hired me straight out of Pratt. They even waited for me to do my Army Reserve (National Guard).

I joined the company in 1960 for the first time, as an assistant art director and was put in the Coca-Cola group. This was quite a good deal for a kid from Brooklyn.
At the time we did mostly magazine ads and outdoor posters, all the art directors, senior and junior had an opportunity to submit ideas, hundreds were done, many submitted and most rejected.
A guy from Coca-Cola Atlanta would walk around the conference room and pick one or two. At that time the slogan was “things go better with Coca-Cola”. Anything from food to emotions went better with Coke.

I get a poster approved," holy S___t", a big deal for me. My boss, a senior art director tells me to pick a photographer and go do it. I go to the art buyer and she recommends some photographers, I pick one, really well known, expensive; I am really into it, the big time, very Madmen.
The shot is a large Coke and a bag of potato chips. No big deal right? Wrong! We have to light the Coke so the highlight in the bottle is just right, the soul of Coca-Cola. The potato chips have to be just right; the cellophane bag must be perfect. All this takes time, money and people; the photographer, two assistants, a stylist, and a food lady. His studio is in a gorgeous brownstone in the upper 60’s. He has a Jaguar, and a garage to boot in pricey midtown New York. Now that was impressive.
During the shoot, picking through hundreds of potato chips to get the perfect ones, lighting the product just so, rejecting cellophane bags, one after the other, moving lights, having the copywriter there as well as the account team, spending a fortune, freaks me out; I suddenly see the lunacy of all of it. The photographer, a great guy tells me that we will talk after the shoot. I get through it but the preposterous situation has really gotten to me.

After everybody leaves, about 8 in the evening, John (photographer) hands me a large whiskey in a crystal glass.

I tell him this is no job for a man, picking perfect potato chips, lighting a soft drink with such fervor, I have got to get out of this.

He then tells me there are only five jobs in the world, that if you do them badly are mortal sins.
If you are a Doctor, Teacher, Priest, Policeman, or a Farmer, you had better be good at it.
All the rest do not really matter, no matter how much or how little Coke we sell it is not a sin, of any kind.

If you are not one of of the five professions, being an art director, or in advertising, “beats parking cars”.

Thanks John, you put it in perspective.

1 comment:

  1. Your original feelings were correct. The photographer's philosophy is only correct if the important things in life are unimportant to him. I believe you see his philosophy as a means to an end which you have been looking for all your life.

    Am I being enigmatic. Probably.