In Memoriam: Tim Elliott, Career Adman
We lost Tim Elliott on Dec. 30, and it was not only a horrible loss for his family and his many friends, but for our industry. Tim loved what he called “our craft.” Unlike many in the business today, he didn’t think it was all about the money and the power. He believed it was about doing great work, and particularly, about people doing great work together.
He had a way of supporting our fragile egos so we could go out and do that very hard and risky thing of communicating clearly and in a way that entertains. Yet with all his respect for the craft, he also kept it in perspective and made us laugh. How many calls ended with, “F— ’em all and get on with your job.”
Tim also made us laugh by his marvelous eccentricity. As someone once said, he had the confidence that true aristocrats possess, which lets them be absolutely themselves at all
times. If you were boring him, he would get up and wander off mid-sentence. He would occasionally surprise someone who had come to talk to him by popping out from behind the plants in his office. And his language was extravagantly expressive: A jerk was not a jerk, but a “festering pile.”
When we heard Tim was sick in September, we made a video for him, since he was in New York
and most of us in San Francisco couldn’t get back to visit. People spoke their hearts to the video camera, and I thought afterward that it was probably the most eloquent review of anyone’s performance the corporate world had ever seen.
When Tim first came to FCB Worldwide (as managing director of the New York office), he gave a speech to a rather unmotivated group, worn down by years of management turnover and the loss of our flagship business, Levi’s. I was out of town and missed the speech, so I asked him to tell me what he had talked about.
He said he wanted to tell everyone that it was about love, but they wouldn’t have understood, so he told them it was about great creative. We all had a year with Tim, and I’d venture a guess that just about everyone understands now.
Thank you, Tim, for a glimpse of how it is supposed to be. I wish we all had your gift for bringing love and laughter into this too-consuming business of earning a living.
Jane Gardner
Director, e-business strategies
Foote, Cone & Belding
San Francisc