Defunct Amster Yard
In Eyes of the Beholders
I found Tim Arnold's latest "dreamin-'bout-the-good-old-days" thing published in your mag ["More Madventures," May 28] just a little semi-fascinating. Guy seems to have missed the whole point of Amster Yard. ... Dude, we were a jolly troop of traveling creatives out to have fun and do great work, not some psycho-sexual Fight Club. Peace and love, baby. Of course, I always kind of thought he didn't get the dream.
You know, I meet these guys sometimes and they're usually not that much older than me—in years, anyways. But they're always going on about the good old days when things were really creative, when we used to punch out account guys, when clients let us do anything and we were all drunk half the time and stoned the other half. And I'm like ... these are the good days, brother. We're doin' it like never before. We're all multi-media-techno-bombastic-strato-creative-global fantastic. Go back to work! Get a job! Save the planet! Stop the war! But cut that "glory days" bullshit, man. ... Always liked Tim, too. Never really thought he fit. But always liked him. Sad to hear the business left him so melancholic. Hope I wasn't any cause of it.
Bro, I'm sorry you lost like $30 million or whatever. Sorry you had so many bad experiences with me. Or with Lee. Or with John. (By the way, you must have been high. John just doesn't use the word f**k. Not part of his vocabulary. Me, maybe. Not John. Guy's got too much class.)
And show a little respect. He's not "Dooner" to you. He's Mr. Dooner. Do in your career what John's done in his and maybe you get permission to refer to him like that. Maybe. Show some class, hombre.
And thanks for the concern, but we're all good. There's still about 20 of us who started the Yard that are still together. Now we're all part of Momentum Worldwide. We still work with Martini and Bacardi and Coke and GM. We're still having fun. We're just doing it on a multimedia global level now. Some of the other guys? Well, Waites is a partner in Mother. You've heard of them, right? And Lee Daley heads up global marketing for Manchester United. They play soccer. Pretty much, everybody's good. Happy families. Good health. The whole dream.
Tim, try to find something you enjoy doing. Today. The old days are just that, buddy. They're old. Spend too much time there, same thing happens to you.
Co-founder, Amster Yard
I read with interest and amusement Tim Arnold's piece on his time at Amster Yard. Those interested enough to look forensically at a history of the McCann offshoot, to look at how it started, how it evolved, the quality of people that worked there and the quality of work it produced, will see Tim's experience in a broader light than his own short time there allows. Personal experience is always historically tainted by selfinterest, particularly when our decisions do not play out as expected.
My experience was very different. The four years I spent at "the Yard" were the most exciting times in my 21 years in the advertising business, notably because of two very different, but remarkable, characters: Jeff Weiss and John Dooner. Weiss, my partner for four years, a brilliant designer, outstanding art director and a man whose pure love of creativity and ability to motivate creative people has to be witnessed to be believed. At times mad, uncontrollable, unpredictable, but at all times dedicated, passionate, emotional and brilliant. Hell, he's a creative guy.
And then, John Dooner, the best manager I ever worked for because of his strength of purpose, clarity of vision, consummate ability to handle people and his remarkable ability to build McCann. I spent six years in New York under his watch and he gave me Amster Yard to run when I was 31. A brave decision.
When John gave me the task, he looked at me in his office and he said, with his big grin, "Don't fuck it up." Classic Dooner—keeping you on your toes, but also brilliantly empowering and always delivered with a touch of humanity. He did this for me when I had been ill for some time, I was newly married, had a new baby and I was away from home. I knew he was challenging me to face my fears and as I left his office he laughed and rubbed the back of my head. I grew six inches in the room that day and me and Mr. Weiss went on to win a hell of a lot of business together over four years. Dooner, what a guy, what a leader.
Group commercial director
Manchester United Football Club