Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In search of Larry

Yesterday, I spoke about how we are living in the UnGolden Age of Car Advertising. Most of it sucks. And I don't see it improving any time soon.

Let me tell you about a better time.

I had the good fortune of coming up in the business when Rubin Postaer & Associates was hitting its stride. When every ad coming from the Brentwood headquarters was an award winner. And when every month saw a reciprocal jump in sales.

Both of which made for a very happy Honda client.

Much of the credit belongs to the incredibly talented people in the Creative Department. But even at a young impressionable age and from my lowly viewpoint in the windowless mail room, I could see the success all started with the unwavering tutelage of one Larry Postaer.

I rarely ran in to Larry during my days at the agency. He was always quietly holed up in his office. So what I knew of him came secondhand from the staff, who would tell stories.

Stories about how Larry would mercilessly kill their work.
Stories about his somewhat ruthless demeanor.
Stories about his ceaseless demand for excellence.

But the stories were always tempered with admiration. And begrudging reverence. Because these copywriters and art directors knew -- they absolutely knew -- that if and when their work cut the mustard with Larry, it would sail on through to production.

There would be no gut check with the account people. No review with the planners to make sure the "work was on strategy." And most importantly, no meddling from the junior clients, who might dare to suggest a different car color or ask a stupid question.

Client: Our target audience doesn't go to museums. Does the car have to be in a museum?

Larry: Yes.

End of discussion.

Today, many people talk about the demise of advertising and its diminishing effects and want to point the finger at media fragmentation. I would suggest otherwise.

I believe it's more in the realm of leadership fragmentation. There are too many "leaders." Too many constituents. Too many levels. Too many goddamn internal reviews.

We need fewer cooks in the kitchen.

And more chefs, like Larry Postaer.

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