Tim Lindsay – A Life in Advertising

In November 2011, current CEO of D&AD (Design and Art Direction) – Tim Lindsay – gave a talk at Bournemouth University for the BA (Hons) Advertising with Marketing Communications students. I was the course representative for D&AD and was lucky enough to chat with Tim as well as interview him for the University. You can watch the Q+A below (please excuse the awful background noise):

Lindsay is an advertising legend so it was great to chat with him and also hear some of his stories from being in the business for so long. I’d recommend reading more about the work the man himself has been involved with as a lot of it has been truly revolutionary. Despite recently finishing Sir John Hegarty’s ‘Hegarty on Advertising’ and being slightly disillusioned with it, I would love to read more about the industry from the perspective of Lindsay. One of the anecdotes he told to me has been written up below.

A very large and highly reputable telecoms company – one of the biggest in the country at the time – came to the agency to hear a pitch for their business. It was a shoo-in.

Meet, greet, present and sign on the dotted line. Job done.

The agency’s pitching team concluded their presentation which was punctuated with a ripple of applause and a radiance emanating from the faces of their surely-soon-to-be client partners.

“Well, thank you for that – excellent, wonderful. Would you mind waiting outside for a few minutes whilst we just discuss everything together?” the head of the client team beamed expectantly through his thick-framed glasses.

“Of course,” was the reply, “call us in when you’re ready”

The agency team left, closing the door behind them and containing the air of excitement within the meeting room.

*            *            *

Fifteen minutes passed and the advertising team were called back in. This time, the air wasn’t saturated with the same exuberance and excitement. A frost had gathered over the faces of the clients.

“Thank you for you time today. We’ll call you,”

This is agency speak for ‘No’.

A half-smile chinked some ice away from the head of the client teams mouth.

What could have possibly happened in a small contained room after the team had left that would have completely changed the clients’ mind?

The pitching team showed their would-be business partners out and retired to the meeting room.

The chill hadn’t yet left the room.

David, the head of the team, noticed something on the desk. He had left his notepad on the table in the room.

On top of the pad read the following scribble:

“The cunt in the glasses is going to be trouble”

Of course, that “cunt in the glasses” happened to be the head of the client team.

The agency never did get that call.

Having reflected on this story, I thought it would make a wonderful advert for TipEx. Sadly, however, DraftFCB, São Paulo executed a similar concept earlier this year (below) for a competitor product and earned a Silver in the Outdoor Lions category. Two lessons learned: don’t bad mouth the head of the client team and get your ideas out there early.

Brand: Paper Mate Liquid Paper
Agency: DraftFCB, São Paulo, Brazil
Executive Creative Directors: Benjamin Yung Jr. and Cássio Zanatta
Creative Directors: Benjamin Yung Jr. and Cássio Zanatta
Copywriters: Rainor Marinho and Ana Mattioni
Art Director: Palloma Quintale and Diego Rosendo
Illustrator: Julius Ohta
Photography: Paulo Barros
Art Buyer: Tina Castro, Daniel Gonçalves and Gisele Miranda
Account Supervisor: Nilton Bonini
Head of Art: Benjamin Yung Jr.

A few months after interviewing him, I ran into Tim Lindsay at the D&AD 50th Anniversary Judging in Kensington, London. Despite being busy at the event, he still took time out to have a quick chat and ask how things were going – a very genuine, nice guy.

I recently found a quote he said in another (better recorded) interview where he states:

“Creativity in communication and marketing can be a force for good in the world.”

I believe this is precisely the reason why the industry is so phenomenal: to use the skills we have to help others, solve genuine crises and change the way people look at everything makes this one of the most exciting industries to be working in today.


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