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Feeling Grumpy, But Looking Good

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Admen/authors' latest pursuits: crabby kids and fashionistas

Tom Lichtenheld's children's books tend to sound like they were inspired by his 19 years in advertising. First there was Everything I Know About Pirates. Then, Everything I Know About Monsters. His latest, perfect for the times, is: What Are YOU So Grumpy About?

The book presents the various recipes for a rotten mood as questions: "Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed?" "Were all your favorite clothes in the laundry?" "Did your brother or sister touch you?" In talking with Shoptalk, he offers a few questions for grumpy ad people: "Did the client not let you go to an exotic location for a shoot?" "Did they make you make the logo bigger?" "Did they tell you your concepts were too obscure?" And for account people: "Did a planner take your job?"

Lichtenheld's advice is simple: Keep it in perspective. "Your problems are good problems to have: 'You can only spend $500,000 on a spot,' " says the Chicago-area-based freelance art director.

He dedicates the new book, published this month by Little Brown, to his "friends at Fallon who were never grumpy and always inspired me."

Meanwhile, Mike Toth, president of Toth Brand Imaging in Concord, Mass., has a book of his own coming out: Fashion Icon: The Power and Influence of Graphic Design, due next month from Rockport Publishers. It features profiles of the people behind brands such as Jack Spade, Louis Vitton and Donna Karan. One passage tells of Trey Laird's climb from Donna Karan creative director to president of Laird + Partners.

Toth, who has worked on brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, J. Crew and Keds, took a year to develop the book around his busy agency schedule. "It really is a labor of love," he says. Next up from Toth: books about branding and photography.