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A while back, in the Admiral’s Club at Laguardia airport, this youngster caught my attention. Regular looking kid, a bit disheveled in his ill-fitting blue sweatshirt and no-name blue jeans. But something marked him apart: a striped cap with a propeller on top!

Wow.

I remember thinking he’s safe here but that goofy cap would be a death sentence in the schoolyard -certainly in the ones I attended. I mean, what symbolizes dork more than a beanie with a propeller on top? It’s a nerd icon from when nerds were at their nerdiest. Spanky wore one on the ancient TV show, The Little Rascals.

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But in this day and age, an adolescent boy wearing something so silly… in public. He might as well have had a “Kick Me!” sign affixed to his back. I decided to sneak a picture -not to mock him as a person but to document the reality. I uploaded the anonymous photo on Facebook, adding my line about the schoolyard.

The comments came quickly. To my delight they all were deeply supportive of the Beanie Boy. Here’s a perfect example from a Facebook friend, Brian Collins:

I think the kid is astounding. He is wearing it with some pride. And it looks like it’s motorized. Even better. If this makes the kid happy that’s perfect. And he looks deeply engaged on the web, too. Great.

What we don’t need are any more cookie cutter kids dressed in oversized nylon football jerseys, cocked baseball caps and ratty jeans with their lifeless eyes glued to ESPN.

Go, beanie boy, go!

Upon further consideration, Brian is right. My knee-jerk reaction was shortsighted, even ignorant. The Beanie Boy is not a dork. Frankly, he’s anything but. He’s a maverick and a rogue, a lad who’s not afraid to defy convention.

Recently, I compared the typical ad agency creative department to Romper Room. I wrote: “The older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay connected with my “inner child.” The best creative people do not grow out of it when they grow up. We remain inquisitive. Lovers of fun. You see it in our bicycles in the hallway. Our dubious wardrobes. Our playlists. Our silly snapshots on Facebook.”

Indeed, defying convention is what makes us creative. I don’t want to lose that. Ever. And so, young admiral from the Admiral’s Club, I echo the words of my wise friend, Mr. Collins and the champions of creativity everywhere: “Go, beanie boy, Go!”

Author’s note: I wrote about the Beanie Boy before. For me, he never gets old.

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Nerd or maverick?

A while back, in the Admiral’s Club at Laguardia airport, a youngster caught my attention. He was a regular looking kid, a bit disheveled in his ill-fitting blue sweatshirt and no-name blue jeans. But something else marked him apart: he was wearing a striped cap with a propeller on top!

Wow.

I remember thinking to myself: he’s safe here but that goofy cap would be a death sentence in the schoolyard. At least, in the public schools I attended. I mean, what symbolizes dork more than a beanie with a propeller on top? It’s a nerd icon from when nerds were at their nerdiest. Spanky wore one on the ancient TV show, The Little Rascals.

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Spanky and his pals…

Anyway, the lad sat down in front of a house computer and began doing his thing. Again, like any other kid. But I still couldn’t get over his crazy chapeau. Remarkable, in this day and age, an adolescent boy wearing something so silly… in public! He might as well have had a “Kick Me!” sign affixed to his back. I decided to sneak a picture. I didn’t want to mock him as a person (I’m not a total ass) but I did want to document his most anti of fashion statements. I uploaded the anonymous photo on Facebook, adding my line about the schoolyard.

The comments came quickly. While some were snide (like mine) most were deeply supportive of the Beanie Boy. Here’s a perfect example from a Facebook friend, Brian Collins:

I think the kid is astounding. He is wearing it with some pride. And it looks like it’s motorized. Even better. If this makes the kid happy that’s perfect. And he looks deeply engaged on the web, too. Great.

What we don’t need are any more cookie cutter kids dressed in oversized nylon football jerseys, cocked baseball caps and ratty jeans with their lifeless eyes glued to ESPN.

Go, beanie boy, go!

Upon further consideration, Brian is right. My knee-jerk reaction was shortsighted, even ignorant. The Beanie Boy is not a dork. Frankly, he’s anything but. He’s a maverick and a rogue, a lad who’s not afraid to defy convention.

Last blog post, I compared the typical ad agency creative department to Romper Room. I wrote: “the older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay connected with my “inner child.” The best creative people do not grow out of it when they grow up. We remain inquisitive. Lovers of fun. You see it in our bicycles in the hallway. Our dubious wardrobes. Our playlists. Our silly snapshots on Facebook.”

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My inner child’s orange shoes and vintage 10-speed!

Indeed, defying convention is what makes us creative. I don’t want to lose that. Ever. And so, young admiral from the Admiral’s Club, I echo the words of my wise friend, Mr. Collins and the champions of creativity everywhere: “Go, beanie boy, Go!”

Author’s note: I discovered and wrote about the Beanie Boy over a year ago. For me, he never gets old.

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All righty then, let’s make ads!

A while back a guest writer on AdAge, Lauren Warner took some heat for an essay she wrote about the briefing process. Among other things, she claimed one should address “creatives on your shop’s team like they’re in kindergarten.”

Others may have been offended but the story made me smile. I recall an evening spent at my children’s school, meeting their teachers, discussing the upcoming year. During this visit, I became aware of how “creative” so much of my daughters’ curriculum really is. Colette’s science teacher explained how “experimenting and taking chances” shapes her powers of intuition. Lily’s drama teacher rhapsodized about “connecting to the inner fantastic.” She used the word “connecting” over and over again. “At this age,” she said, “the creative gene is ready to explode!”

I couldn’t help but think of all the “connecting” strategies I’ve puzzled over as a copywriter and creative director. “Connecting people” is the default strategy for all telecommunications, personal technology, and, frankly, just about everything people use in their waking lives. Connecting folks is Coca Cola’s uber-strategy. “I’d like to buy the world a coke.”

Even more interesting was this business about creativity “exploding.” I believe the teacher was saying that our creative muse is born in these opening years of life. That stimulated and nurtured, we begin to understand and respect our intuitions. Kindergarten is a creative department. Experimenting with ideas on the stage, colors on paper, sounds in music class… That’s what I do!

Or that’s what I prefer doing. Much of my day, however, is spent lawyering on behalf of ideas. Defending them. Subjecting them to all manner of worries and concerns, making them more appropriate, more coherent, more on strategy. It’s inevitable. It’s my job. But it’s also like killing the butterfly in order to appreciate it.

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“Use you imagination!”

The older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay “connected” to my “inner child.” The best creative people do not grow out of it when they grow up. We remain inquisitive like children. Lovers of fun. You see it in our bicycles in the hallway. Our dubious wardrobes. Our playlists. Our silly snapshots on Facebook. Alas, you also see it in meetings, where we become pouting and defensive, wilting under criticism, frustrated by the grown-ups ruining our fun. I know we can be insufferable. Imposing MBA logic in Romper Room is bound to create problems.

But our muses shouldn’t be stymied: the ability to ideate, to find that “inner fantastic” is necessarily petulant. What’s regrettable is marketing’s obsession with guaranteeing results…or else! Research. Testing. Groups. I say Bleh! Intuition, if cultivated and nurtured, is the most important tool the creative department. The old saw is wrong. Ideas are not children. We are.

Author’s note: I reworked this post from a previous one. Please don’t send me to the principal’s office.


Portrait of a young man as artist…

I’m in the Admiral’s Club at Laguardia airport when a young boy walks by me. He’s a regular looking kid, a bit disheveled in his ill-fitting blue sweatshirt and no-name blue jeans. But something else: He’s wearing a multi-colored cap with a propeller on top!

Really? I think to myself: silly enough here but a death warrant in the schoolyard. I mean what symbolizes dorkiness more than a beanie with a propeller on top? It’s like something Spanky wore on the ancient TV show, The Little Rascals.


The Little Rascals: Spanky’s the chubby one donning, yup, a beanie

Anyway, the lad sits down in front of a house computer and begins doing his thing. Again, like any other kid. But I can’t get over his crazy chapeau. It’s remarkable to me, in this day and age, that an adolescent boy would be caught dead in public wearing something so silly. He might as well have had a “Kick Me!” sign affixed to his back. I decide to sneak a picture. I don’t want to mock him necessarily but I do want to document this most anti of fashion statements. I upload the photo on Facebook, adding my line about the schoolyard.

Your comments come quickly and while some are snide (like mine) others are deeply supportive. Here’s a perfect example from my Facebook friend, Brian Collins:

i think the kid is astounding. he is wearing it with some pride. and it looks like it’s motorized. even better. if this makes the kid happy that’s perfect. and he looks deeply engaged on the web, too. great.

what we don’t need are any more cookie cutter kids dressed in oversized nylon football jerseys, cocked baseball caps and ratty jeans with their lifeless eyes glued to espn.

go, beanie boy, go.

Brian, you are so right. This kid deserves applause. He’s not a dork. He’s a maverick, a rogue, a boy who’s not afraid to defy convention. A while back, I wrote a post about how an advertising creative department is a lot like Romper Room. I think of that now…

The older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay connected to my “inner child.” The best creative people do not grow out of it when they grow up. We remain inquisitive like children. Lovers of fun. You see it in our bicycles in the hallway. Our dubious wardrobes. Our playlists. Our flirty snapshots on Facebook. Alas, you also see it in meetings, where we become pouting and defensive, wilting under criticism, frustrated by the grown-ups ruining our fun. I know we can be insufferable. Imposing MBA logic in Romper Room is bound to create problems.

And so we are. And so what? Defying convention is what makes us creative. I don’t want to lose that. Ever. Young man, I echo the words of Mr. Collins: “Go, beanie boy, Go!”


“Who can tell me what the focus of sale is?”

I’m doing a redirect here. I had another story prepared for you but my inner child found something else he wanted to play with. A guest writer on AdAge, Lauren Warner is taking some heat for an essay she wrote about the briefing process (linked below). Among other things, she claimed one should address “creatives on your shop’s team like they’re in kindergarten.”

Others may have been offended but the story made me smile. The kindergarten remark, in particular, made me think about a similar argument I’d made in this very space. Here it is, revisited…

I spent the evening at my children’s school, meeting their teachers, discussing the upcoming year. During this visit, I became aware of how “creative” so much of my girl’s curriculum really is. Colette’s science teacher explained how “experimenting and taking chances” shapes her powers of intuition. Lily’s drama teacher rhapsodized about “connecting to the inner fantastic.” She used the word “connecting” over and over again. “At this age,” she said, “the creative gene is ready to explode!”

I couldn’t help but think of all the “connecting” strategies I’ve puzzled over as a copywriter and creative director. “Connecting people” is the default strategy for all telecommunications, personal technology, and, frankly, just about everything people use in their waking lives. Connecting folks is Coca Cola’s uber-strategy. “I’d like to buy the world a coke.”

Even more interesting was this business about creativity “exploding.” I believe the teacher was saying that our creative muse is born in these opening years of life. That stimulated and nurtured, we begin to understand and respect our intuitions. Kindergarten is a creative department. Experimenting with ideas on the stage, colors on paper, sounds in music class…Christ, that’s what I do!

Or that’s what I prefer doing. Much of my day, however, is spent lawyering on behalf of ideas. Defending them. Subjecting them to all manner of worries and concerns, making them more appropriate, more coherent, more on strategy. It’s inevitable. It’s my job. But it’s also like killing the butterfly in order to appreciate it.

The older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay “connected” to my “inner child.” The best creative people do not grow out of it when they grow up. We remain inquisitive like children. Lovers of fun. You see it in our bicycles in the hallway. Our dubious wardrobes. Our playlists. Our flirty snapshots on Facebook. Alas, you also see it in meetings, where we become pouting and defensive, wilting under criticism, frustrated by the grown-ups ruining our fun. I know we can be insufferable. Imposing MBA logic in Romper Room is bound to create problems.

But our muses shan’t be stymied. The ability to ideate, to find that “inner fantastic” is necessarily petulant. Regrettable, then, is marketing’s obsession with guaranteeing results…or else! Research. Testing. Groups. I say Bleh! Intuition, if cultivated and nurtured, is the most important tool in kindergarten and, in my opinion, the creative department. The old saw is wrong -our ideas are not children. We are.

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