Tuesday, March 13, 2018

On craftsmanship

Years ago, and not under the best of circumstances (having just been fired from Chiat/Day), I had the opportunity to work with one of the finest craftsmen in our industry. An art director and an artist whose reputation precedes him and his not insignificant hair, the great John Doyle.

He convinced me that it would be worth my while to make the 53 mile daily commute, from Culver City to Irvine, Ca, behind the Orange Curtain. To work on an iconic automotive brand -- Jaguar.

Inside joke notwithstanding, I took the leap.

Apart form the generous salary (more than I was making at Chiat), the free dry cleaning, the complimentary gym membership, here was a chance to work with Doyle and fashion a distinctive ad campaign for a brand that was singular in every sense of the word.

Moreover, it would be an opportunity to ride the coattails of an art director who has graced the pages of every award annual and had literally written the book on craftsmanship. Thus elevating my superficial and sophomoric portfolio and giving it some much needed class.

Sadly, the brain trust at Jaguar was more interested in moving metal and spitting out crappy ads for their even crappier $199/month X-Type, a car that in no way deserves to wear the leaper badge. One cretinous marketing genii even suggested we attach some type of jingle or musical signature to the Jaguar brand.

That's the kind of low-brow thinking that would earn a position in today's presidential cabinet.

All water under the bridge, right?

I thought so.

And frankly hadn't given that missed opportunity a moment's thought in a very long time. Until last week when I was cleaning out the mess in the shelving unit that houses my printer as well as all the other detritus of a failed career.

That's when I found this:

(Hint: It's the newspaper equivalent of a test drive)

Let me apologize in advance. This is a poor repro of a poor repro of a comp that never ran.

Furthermore I have no expectation that you would read the rather lengthy copy that I now wish I had the opportunity to tighten and rewrite.

I only present this only because this is the type of ad Doyle and I wanted to do for the brand. The fact is you don't have to read the ad. The copy acts as a graphic element. It informs the reader that Jaguar is no ordinary automobile and that this is a brand that can, and is willing to, make a statement.

In other words, it's brand behavior that reflects the brand. A self evident truth that doesn't appear to be very self evident these days.

I remember presenting this ad, and five others like it, all with 1000+ carefully written words, all pinned to a foamcore board in a huge conference room. I was reading the copy and barely made it to the second paragraph, before one crusty old English SVP, who had the remains of his oily fish and chips lunch stained on his tie, interrupted...


Weeks after that, I quit and went freelance.

1 comment:

Michael Buss said...

The best ads I ever wrote were long ass copy for Land Rover. There's just something about beautiful cars that invites it. Sadly, they don't teach that kind of craft in school any more.