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Recently, every agency in gyro’s global network convened to watch a live broadcast from our worldwide CEO & CCO, Christoph Becker. It was the anniversary of our company and the man wanted to say a few words.

Our boss is relentless that way. When it comes to driving agency culture, he is a force of nature. Whether speaking about our creative product, various tenants of our philosophy or introducing some new theme (usually all of the above), Christoph is adamant about making it a matter. Whatever anyone thinks about gyro, I can definitively say we are not an agency built on memos and behind closed doors. Gyro wears its heart on its sleeve, and Christoph is both our head coach and number one cheerleader.

God bless him.

After his presentation, I admitted to a colleague that one of the many reasons I mightn’t ever run an agency on a worldwide level is my inability and/or unwillingness to drive culture that way. Don’t get me wrong. I adore making creative presentations. And I love this company. I just am not super comfortable putting the two together on a daily basis.

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Sometimes it just feels like pimping.

Alas, certain days I can’t get it up. Maybe I’m distracted or preoccupied by something at home. Perhaps I am upset with an individual at work. Or is it I’m simply not in the mood. Whatever the issue, I’m not always ready, willing or able to do the deal. I like hearing myself talk but I get sick of me as well.

In the end, I prefer working on ideas. My default mode is to dive into a project. Let someone else coach. Just give me the goddam ball. I like to think of this as leading by example. but I’m not naive. I know one needs to be far more than a worker among workers in order to really lead. Doing the deal 24/7 is a special talent. One needs to be all in. That means celebrating every win, every new person, and every milestone. It also means creating a blueprint for a creative culture and sticking to it through thick and thin, against failure and criticism, versus even crippling self awareness which can make doing all of the above seem like a parody skit from SNL.

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When I was coming up at Leo Burnett, promotions were celebrated via “pink” memos, written by one’s supervisor, which would appear on the desks of everyone at the agency. These notes were pretty special, something to show your parents and put in the scrapbook. While memos and scrapbooks have gone the way of the dodo bird I still think there’s something powerful about “seeing it in writing.”

Therefore, I am going to share the “memo” I wrote on behalf of three people, who were promoted at my agency. At first I wondered if this was too private information to post here, but that’s silly: It’s good news for all involved. Besides now these men have a link they can send to their kin!

(For the record, mentions of clients and projects have been redacted.)

It has been years since anyone in the creative department has been promoted. To my knowledge none in our department, past or present, has ever been made an Associate Creative Director. Well, that is about to change. As part of our “intensification” plans for gyro SF we are asking three individuals to step up in their role and responsibility to the agency.

During his time here and over the last couple years in particular, Toby Petersen has elevated his game to heights even I hadn’t thought possible. Happily, I was wrong. His efforts have brought gyro some of our finest work to date. His skills as an editor and with motion graphics are well known to us. More recently, he’s demonstrated a keen understanding of art-direction and become a valuable asset in that regard. For these and other reasons, please welcome and support Toby as Associate Creative Director. In addition to helping Steve with overall art direction, Toby will oversee our burgeoning adventures into film and video production.

No employee at gyro exemplifies deeper loyalty to his fellows, a passion for creative excellence and sheer hard work than Eric Flynn. Often first in and last out, Eric demonstrates a work ethic we all learn from and benefit from. Perhaps more importantly, Eric is a fountain of good ideas that never seem to run out. Basically, he has contributed critical and even brilliant ideas on every project he’s worked on. He gets social. He gets mobile. And he knows how to write well and fast. Therefore, Eric Flynn is now Associate Creative Director, overseeing copy for the agency.

Jonathan Kochan walks softly but carries a big stick. His ability to create and produce work is well known to all of us. How many times have I heard and said, “Where would we be without him?” I don’t want to know. Jon produces digital assets for our clients with quiet calm and unparalleled grace. More than a showman, Jon is a craftsman. I want him to keep doing what he’s doing and to be recognized for doing it. Therefore, Jon is now Associate Creative Director, specializing in Digital.

On a personal note, we also realize that these individuals will need to make personal and professional adjustments as well. Instead of pointing out problems and issues, they will be required to help solve them. Walk the talk if you will. More than a two-way street, this is a busy intersection and everyone has a right of way. We do not want or need traffic cops. I’m beseeching our new ACD’s to humbly collaborate with everyone here so that we may achieve new heights together. Maturing gracefully into positions of true leadership will take extra effort from them and all of us. To be effective, they will need your support as much as we need theirs.

We want everyone here to feel their efforts and achievements mean something. Your careers matter and therefore so do promotions. I have no doubt in time more will come – in all of our departments, for all of our people. Building a great creative culture and an agency culture in general depends on it.

And here they are, in pics I snagged from the fellas’ Interwebs…

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Jonathan Kochan

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Toby Petersen

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Eric Flynn

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The headline for IWC’s Pilot watch: “Engineered for Aviation.” While the Rolex Yacht Master is “a chronograph created specifically for yacht racing.” I’ll get to the third ad later but if these two 4-figure watches were designed specifically for airline pilots and fancy boat racers how come it’s trust fund babies and hip hop stars that are wearing them?

This is basically a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious: pretentious myths appeal to pretentious people. The makers of these watches know as much. So do all of us in advertising. Hell, we make a pretty good living coming up with these silly fables.

Still, it seems oddly passé coming across such blatant paeans to materialism and SUCCESS. So eighties. With millennials wearing social causes on their sleeves it strikes me as odd to offer them something so bling-y to wear on their wrists.

Likely young people aren’t the target. Maybe these watches are for Gen-Y or Boomers trying to reconnect with their boyhood dreams of flying planes and sailing ships.

Or perhaps the copy is going for the authenticity vibe, you know, to try and impress people who assume watches made “specifically” for deep sea diving or flying jets must be damn fine watches.

The problem with all that is pilots have instrument panels for measuring barometric pressure and altitude, to say nothing of telling time. Honestly, I’m guessing most pilots wear the watch his/her spouse gave him/her for Christmas.

And who races yachts… really? Like one percent of the so-called 1%? Honestly, the concept of yacht racing is so f-cking annoying I can’t imagine anyone relating to it. Even the average rich person thinks yachts are for sheiks and douchebags. But that’s Rolex.

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The third ad, for Tudor, suggests their watch is made for “several days walk from any trace of mankind.” It is what one wears on an “epic journey to the frozen expanse of the Arctic.” I’m not sure how this message would appeal to anyone. I guess with the oceans and skies already spoken for there was no place left to go. Oh well. Over the years, Automakers have sold untold millions of SUV’s promising their ability to traverse places none of their customers will ever go either.

(Full disclosure: With no intention of deep sea diving, I purchased a Rolex Submariner in 1996. I wanted something iconic and grown-up to replace the Seiko I still wore my mother gave me when I graduated high school.)

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Above tweet says it all (plus love from Stu!)

After 15 years, Johnnie Walker (Diageo) is leaving its incumbent agency, the much-heralded BBH, for Anomaly. That’s a big deal for two reasons. First off, fifteen years is a long-ass time for any client to stay with an agency. The other reason is over those years, Johnnie Walker & BBH mined plenty of marketing gold together; its theme, “Keep Walking,” reached a zenith with The Man Who Walked Around the World, featured below…

Clearly, it’s a great piece of work, the resounding bag pipes indicative of the beautiful music these two companies made together.

But, you know, I have a special perspective.

Fifteen years ago, I was copywriter and fledgling creative director at Leo Burnett in Chicago, on the Johnnie Walker business. During that time I produced two campaigns for the portfolio: “Seeing Red” for Red Label and “Welcome to Civilization” for Black Label.

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While we were proud of those efforts, Diageo ultimatel put the global account in review. In an epic cluster f-ck we lost the business to a most-worthy opponent, BBH. Sir John Hegarty (is he a Knight?) lead his agency’s efforts and, being a UK run pitch, it’s safe to say we had no chance.

Still, we fought like hell. And, without bitterness, I like to think we came up with a campaign as good as anything BBH did. Their idea, as I mentioned above, and everybody in advertising knows, was “Keep Walking.” Our line: “Walk the Walk.”

Obviously, we were working from essentially the same strategy. If you’re taking notes the tip of our strategic spear was “masculine progress.” The wordplay with Walker was impossible to resist.

Regrettably, I didn’t save our spec work. But like BBH, a key part of the launch campaign featured JW’s iconic walking man logo. Which line do you like better? My opinion, one could make a case for either. Alas, our case would not be heard.

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“Keep Walking” vs “Walk the Walk”

And now Johnnie is walking… away…again

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Yeah, these two are the problem.

So, I picked up the latest issue of GQ to read on the plane. I like looking at all the cool shit men can own, wear and do. Provided you’re super f-cking rich. (More on that later.) Anyway, I get to this piece, “The Least Influential People of 2014” and topping the list, at Numero Uno, is “Bono and U2.” The editors were leveling some serious hate on the Irish band because they “strong-armed” their “dad-rock” into your iTunes “without your consent.” For those unawares, U2 released their new album, Songs of Innocence for free. The magazine called it a piece of “direct mail.”

Oh, the indignity!

A little history: Apple and U2 go back ten years in a relationship that helped launch the iPod as well as taking the iTunes platform to a whole ‘nutha level. Remember those iconic commercials in 2004, featuring the band’s hit, Vertigo? Nobody complained.

But that was then. If ever there was proof ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ this latest U2/Apple collaboration is it. Were U2 & Apple presumptuous in their noble deed? Maybe even pretentious? Probably.

But so is GQ. Frankly, GQ has been on a vanity trip as long as Bono has. And as for being “least influential” what exactly has GQ given us, other than inferiority complexes? Who among the working class can even buy anything in GQ? A pair of boots for two grand? A watch for 24k. Give me a f–cking break. “Dad-rock?” Who else besides movie stars and trust-fund babies can afford any of the shit from GQ magazine? That’s right. Dads. And only a small handful of those at that. Hating on a 50-yr-old do-gooder like Bono for giving his work away reeks of annoying millennial hipsterism if not downright hypocrisy.

Speaking of which, in GQ’s advice section, The Style Guy an editor criticizes wearing sweat clothes outside of the gym, blithely suggesting they are “worn by oversize bouncers, bodyguards and repo men in the hip hop industry.” Fair enough. And classist. Yet, on page 34 they show a dude wearing sweatpants ($320!) with a sweater ($400), shirt ($350) and jacket costing one grand. Later, “GQ’s exclusive advertising section” pays tribute to the winner of Express’s Back2Business contest, Nick Taranto. Dude is wearing sweats pants. He is not in a gym. Nick is drinking coffee in someone’s loft. There are other sweats-wearing people in this issue, both advertorial and editorial.

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They’re fancy but they’re sweats.

GQ, I’m calling bullshit on your double standards. What’s worse than a man purse? A douche bag.

Final Note: After Bono, GQ chose Barack Obama as the second “least influential person of 2014.” Both men appear before Donald Sterling. Which makes sense, I suppose, if you’re a douche bag.