“The minute you let someone force you to do bad work you ain’t shit” and if your clients won’t buy good work, “fuck ‘em”, was the advice handed down by ad legends Lee Clow and George Lois today in Cannes.
Between them Clow and Lois are responsible for some of the most iconic ads ever, from Apple, MTV, Reebok and Pepsi from their respective agencies Chiat\Day\TBWA and PKL.
In the session entitled “A Million Stories” Lois said how he had the “misfortune” to be invited to a major agency to give a talk.
“I walked in and there’s 150 people in the same room, some listening to music and other over here in meetings and no-one can concentrate,” he said.
“There were all these meetings going on and all I can think is there are all these people who cannot concentrate, they’re not using their God given talent to create.”
Clow said he thought no artists had yet mastered the new media landscape, with technologists dominating the early years of the internet, adding “I’m not sure how long it will continue to be called advertising, I’ve been calling it media art for a while now.”
Lois’ added: “The name of the game is not technology, the name of the game is advertising.”
On the subject of work, he said there is no excuse for anyone to put through a substandard campaign.
“Do great work and force it to be sold,” he said. “You have to have the courage to never let anybody force you to do a job you don’t think is great.
“The minute you start doing bad work because it’s forced on you, you ain’t shit. You have to have the courage to fight for your work. If clients won’t let you do great work, fuck ‘em.”
Clow told the audience how he had to pester Jay Chiat for a year to land a job, and when he got in front of the great man was told: “There’s one thing I like in your portfolio. I hope you last a year, just do something good.”
On his relationships with Apple founder Steve Jobs who he met when he was 2 he said: “He was the smartest guy I know who could understand what was being discussed no matter what.
“We sat down and talked about advertising and he had opinions from day one as a 25-year-old. He loved marketing and was always challenging me to do great ads.”