Jeff Goodby: Buy my 'brilliant f***ing idea'

Jeff Goodby: Buy my 'brilliant f***ing idea'

“There isn’t a lot of trust in the advertising world today,” according to ad guru Jeff Goodby, who believes shorter relationships and inexperienced marketers are hurting client-agency relationships.

The co-chairman and partner at Goodby Silverstein & Partners said it is not easy for creative agencies to earn their clients’ trust in today’s world.

“They tend to be very inexperienced marketing officers here. Very often they are not people who can trust other people,” Goodby said via Skype at the Siren Awards in Melbourne this morning.

“Or they are people who will trust other people only in so far as you create something for them and then they look to the boss and see whether he or she likes it. If the boss likes it then they take credit, if the boss doesn’t like it you get the credit for it.”

Goodby said that “happens a lot”, especially in the technology industry and Silicon Valley.

“There is something to be said about longer relationships and there isn’t a lot of trust in the advertising world today because there is just so much stuff to do.”

Goodby is known for pushing many great ideas across the line, including the famous ‘Got Milk?’ work.

At the Siren Awards breakfast celebration this morning he gave an abridged version of his “Why aren’t they buying my brilliant fucking idea?” speech he made at Cannes Lions in 2012.

This morning, he said the key to pushing ideas that seem strange across the line is to look at the pitch as if you are the client and work out what their objections are likely to be.

Passion is important but passion without understanding does not work, he argued.

Below are some of his tactics for pushing through interesting ideas.



“Often times we get shot down by clients and we throw things away that we oughtn’t to throw away,” Goodby said.

Instead, be brave and try again.

This is what the agency did with Budweiser’s ‘Born a Donkey’ Super Bowl ad (below).

The first time they presented the ad to the client they “got laughed out of the room”. The following year they still “thought it was such a stupid idea”. But another year later the client bought it.

“You have to be aware and sensitive to what you look like coming back with it again and again,” Goodby said, adding that a sense of humour helps.


Have the boss there

“Something that has not been selling very well with the rank and file suddenly appeals to the guy above them and, as you know when it appeals to the guy above them, people have a way of suddenly liking it a lot.”

That was the case with another Budweiser campaign (below). The agency heard the marketing department were going to kill the idea because they did not believe it had any longevity.

They came up with a new twist for the work and presented it again. This time the boss was in the meeting: “Luckily when we read these things he went ‘that’s hilarious’…and it was done. And it was done for years.”

What was about to be killed turned into more than 150 different ads.


You are not a business, you are a movement

Aligning work with a social movement is another tactic that paid off for Goodby.

“When we worked with Nike’s skateboarding clothing line we cast around and found that people thought Nike was just a big faceless company.”

Skateboarders especially did not want to be aligned with Nike.

“We did some research and found out that if Nike championed the idea that skateboarders were athletes and deserved to have a place to play just like everybody else then it would be very popular.”

The result is below:


Buy this ad or we will shoot this dog

Goodby said it is a way of selling something to a client if there is no time and they have no time to over think it. When time is not on your side ramp up the passion and promise to deliver.

This was it what he did with the ‘Bosses’ Super Bowl ad for Hyundai (below). The spot was created in just four days.


See a need

Often what the client really needs done is not on the official brief.

“As we know, advertising has turned into a world where many times the best work has come not on an official brief. There is a need to sell up, to find things you can do for clients that they don’t even know they need.”

In 2010 General Motors had just emerged from bankruptcy in America and executives did not want to do any advertising.

The agency could not convince them that they should say something publicly, so they went away and created the ad below.

When the CEO saw the spot which simply showed a serious of failures and comebacks – some comical, others serious – he jumped on board.

The ad went live on Thanksgiving, just 16 months after emerging from bankruptcy reorganisation.

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