Successful Ads 101

AWNY’s ‘master class’ kicks off with John Hegarty
Inspired by the Broadway play Master Class, the Advertising Women of New York recently launched a series of lectures by agency creatives.
John Hegarty, chairman of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, taught the premiere class on Oct. 18 at the Albert Watson Studio in Greenwich Village. All 50 tickets were sold in less than 24 hours.
Hegarty spoke with none of the venom that filled Maria Callas on Broadway. The 34-year ad veteran says he wanted to show “how and why I do it and why it’s successful” in the hopes that his students would “begin to develop their own points of view.”
He also fired off a few criticisms. “I find it alarming that in the U.S., you hire a director and then you decide who’s going to edit. The director must produce the cut,” said Hegarty, who moved to the U.S. to launch BBH’s New York office in February.
Hegarty began with several general observations (see sidebar), then illustrated the principles of good advertising with a case study of BBH and Levi’s. Showing ads from 1985 to the present, he pinpointed methods for success: a visual narrative; short, well-crafted scripts; and creative license for the director.
Finally, Hegarty noted that creatives should have the courage to end a campaign. To illustrate the point, he showed the final spot in the agency’s “Flat Eric” campaign for Levi’s. The ads’ stars end up in a morgue after an accident at a hot-dog stand.
Attendees were complimentary. “It was inspirational,” said Rafael Soberal, art director at Ogilvy & Mather. “He gave a sense of the London way of thinking. It’s all about simplicity.”
Catherine St. Jean, COO at Judy Wald Partners and event chairperson, commented on the makeup of the audience. “It would be great if there were more account execs here to understand the creative process,” she said. “Their eyes would have been opened.”
The organization, which has grown to include women in marketing and publishing, started the series to reach young professionals and to get back in touch with AWNY’s agency roots.
AWNY has not made any concrete plans for the next master class, says St. Jean. “It’s a good sign that people are already asking when the next one is.”
On Creativity
“If you’re having a problem, suddenly sit at a new desk. Life is always about changing perspectives so you see things fresh.”
“Creativity is about the comparison of things. Black is only black when it’s shown against white.”
“I almost think that advertising is existing 30 years ago when people had time and there were, maybe, 10 channels instead of 1,000. The skill of advertising is to reduce.”
“I dislike the whole idea of ethnic advertising. It’s about telling someone, ‘You are fundamentally different.’ Why? We should be celebrating the fact we’re part of the whole.”
“Most of the best communication travels across borders. Picasso travels. Shakespeare travels. Movies travel. Somehow we, who are supposed to be masters of communication, can’t travel.”

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