Sean boyle

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I so love what I do.  (To many “I”s?) The job is learning. Then processing. Then assembling. And lastly, writing a little poetry — whiich becomes the brand claim.  For years in the business as a pseudo strategist I wrote briefs as an advertising account manager. My selling ideas lacked soul.  The briefs were fodder for creative people who typically didn’t like us, they called us “suits.” But as I started reinventing myself as a brand strategist, I allowed my selling ideas (claims) to pick up some whimsy. Lightness. Poetry.

The poetry is what keeps me in the game. It helps me know when I’m done with the idea. My most far reaching brand idea “systematized approach to improving healthcare,” done years ago for multibillion dollar organization, lacked poetry. It probably needed to.

Today, I have the time and type of clients that want poetry in their claims. It makes them remember. It creates a little Zen moment. It reminds them of the love inherent in their brands. Poetry gets marketing clients to love what they do. 


PS. Sean Boyle introduced the word “poetry” to me as it relates to planning. A thousand thanks.



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Can advertising agents get PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)? Good question.  As someone who worked at advertising agencies and made mistakes I know what it’s like to get reamed out. I know what it’s like to make thousand dollar mistakes. I have scar tissue on my back from run-ins with creative people. Voluble creative people who belittle suggestions from non-art and copy brethren.  I’ve also been canned by clients and ad agencies. According to peripatetic wonder-planner Sean Boyle, that’s a good thing…badge of courage.  

Does all the scar tissue, mean-girl activity and failure contribute to an ad agent’s lost nerve? Do we sometimes pull back on a great idea, because we are afraid? Or do we learn from our foibles to become a better agents?

I reckon both are true.                                                   

It’s not a business for the weak hearted. And apologies for any suggestion that trauma in ad world is akin to that in the theater of war, but hey, we use metaphor here. The fact is, when you make decision to spend other people’s money there may be a cost along with a reward. Be thoughtful but be firm. No one is going to die. Learning is the best elixir for nerves. Learn faster than others and you win.



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Sean Boyle, a really smart Publicis brand planner, once told me good brand strategies offer a poetic appeal. To understand his point, I suspect it is much easier to look at a brand strategy and notice a lack of poetry than is to articulate  a poetic frame.  I’ve tried poetry. When my pops died, I wrote one. Following powerful relationships, others. They weren’t “There once was a man from Nantucket” ditties, they were home-grown and from the heart. Without rhyme or perfect tempo.  They were my tempo.    

Poetry and what is poetic is in the eyes of the beholder I reckon, so Sean’s notion about good strategy will be different to each planner. But let’s agree to say poetic ideas are pregnant ideas. And dimensional. Ideas that strike up emotion. Certainly they can provide rational context — it is the real world after all. Perhaps this is why “storytelling” is such a pop marketing topic of the day. But storytelling and the journey and all that other brand-speak, is only as good at the strategy that gave it birth. Only as good as the morals of those stories.  “A closer shave” is not poetic, “a softer rough” just might be. Peace.    

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