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.
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.
January 5, 2015
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.
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.)
After 15 years, Johnnie Walker takes hike from the very agency that took it from us! My unique perspective…
December 18, 2014
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.
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.
And now Johnnie is walking… away…again