Just Asking

Well, I was in Haiti once and I didn’t have a condom and … what? Oh, you mean the biggest creative risk I ever took? The biggest risk you can ever take in advertising is not taking a risk. Doing work that is pedestrian, quiet, safe. I hope I haven’t played there too often. But there have been days when I’ve settled, and those are the days when I’ve taken my biggest risk.

Leaving Wieden + Kennedy to start Anomaly. I’d been there for 10 years, both in Portland and New York. [People might think,] “After 10 years there, why would you ever leave?” It has the best brands, best people in the industry. But I did, and 16 months later, I would hope people would say, “I guess he made the right choice.” Selling an idea to the Louisiana Lottery that involved actually spending $100,000 cash on camera. We built a campaign around the idea, “Winning is the easy part (but spending it takes some imagination).” It consisted of TV ads that featured writer Jim Houck and art director (now Trumpet partner) Pat McGuinness as talent. Their job was to spend money. The vignettes included renting a helicopter to pick up a really good pie, clarinet lessons from Pete Fountain, buying suits of armor to sword fight on Bourbon Street, and renting the Superdome to play pitch and catch. Yeah, it worked. —The biggest risk goes back to becoming an agency in 1976, at a time when about 70 percent of our work (as a design studio) was for agencies. Creatively, in my view, too many decisions are being determined by what testing shows. You can emasculate your work that way. We’re out there everyday with risk. We’re risking our reputation as well as the business of our clients. —