Thursday, June 05, 2008

This Man Is Dangerous And Must Be Stopped


I am very disappointed with Campaign, who have published Dave Trott's classic text "How to get your first job in advertising" as a pamphlet which they are giving away free with today's issue, because I fear Young Creatives may read it and be influenced by it.

I do have enormous respect for Dave Trott. He has written a lot of great adverts, founded two or three influential agencies, and most of all, is legendary for the generosity of his advice to young teams.

And the way he puts that advice across is completely brilliant. His arguments are masterfully put-together, always thought-provoking, and often compelling.

But is his advice correct?

Sadly, a lot of it is not. It is often wildly wrong.

Peter Souter of AMV says Dave Trott has "Nazi eyes." That's harsh. But in a way, wrong thinking that is expressed with unflinching dedication and awesome power is the most dangerous kind of thinking there is.

I would love to go through what he says and demolish it line-by-line. But that would look petty. (Scowling A.D. already thinks I am cross because Dave Trott is "a competitor in the advice to Young Creatives market").

So all I will say is that Dave Trott wrote this think-piece in the 1970s. Now, I'm not saying that any how-to guide written 30 years ago must automatically be out-of-date. But... if you were a car designer, would you be reading car-design pamphlets that were 30 years old? The world has changed. The internet has changed things. 30 years of advertising in the last 30 years has changed things.

I don't know if Dave himself would stand by what he wrote 30 years ago. I suspect he would. He's that kind of guy. Fair play to him.

Anyway, he's now sharing his advice for a whole new generation on his blog. It's fascinating stuff as ever. I disagree with most of it, and have left the odd comment.

But have a look for yourself. And then tell me - should we be listening to this man? Or should he be locked up?

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're not shy are you Scamp? It's not like you can do like me and sign as anonymous.

Amazingly, my word verification was hitlertrott

Lunar BBDO said...

Young creatives can't afford Campaign. By the time they get to it in the library the pamphlet will be gone.

Danger averted.

'5 campaigns, each of three press ads...Don't do TV...'

Yeah...if I saw a book like that I'd tell the team to sod off.

The principles are OK, though (no puns, please. Don't try to look clever. Ask what's wrong with your book etc). Use your brains, kids, and choose the stuff that's relevant today.

If you're too thick to do that, again, sod off.

Anonymous said...

All the clever people don't want to work in advertising anymore. There's no glamour, no pay and the birds' tits have shrunk. What you get now are alot of thickos who are all funny hats, stupid haircuts and no talent. They just get jobs because they can say "viral" and keep a straight face.
There's my advice. Say "viral" without sniggering. Most of the Creative Directors these days don't understand digital and will think you're dreadfully clever. Then just keep bullshitting and hope you don't get found out.
Worked for me.

Paul said...

Isn't it ironic that Campaign likes to bash agencies for not moving with the times in terms of embracing digital etc - then they go and publish a booklet that's so out of date now? What a waste of trees

ADD AD said...

This little book, although I only ever saw it as a tenth generation photocopy when I was a student, was as Peter Souter said very useful 20 years ago. I'm not sure of its relevance now, especially since it is a shallow and frankly rather thinly disguised sales pitch from Dave Trott's agency, the Foreword is by CST's Managing Director for gods sake. At the very least it could have been updated.

page 18 of the leaflet says it was produced for CST by Haymarket Brand Media.

Gordon Comstock said...

Dave Trott is a complete fruit box. He likes originality above all things and yet advocates using a set of rules that would have everyone turning out exactly the same ad over and over.

Getting to grips with his ideas is still a good thing to do. So long as you disregard them immediately.

That's what he'd want really isn't it?

Gordon Comstock said...

Wow his blog is great. I love the way he hyperlinks to YouTube every time he mentions it. That's handy.

ben said...

I hate to say this, but Dave hasn't done a good ad since that book was relevant, and nor have any of the agencies he's been in charge of.

rjhayter said...

All advice needs to be filtered, whether it's from Dave Trott or you, Scamp. Take the bits that work for you, hold them close and ignore the rest.

Now that's a great piece of advice.

Anonymous said...

Think that sums up Campaign for the fools they are.

Anonymous said...

Would a junior team want to work for Trott? No.

Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Digital is going to fuck you, scamp.

And when you are an old man, I hope you get the same disrespect. Though you probably haven done as much as Trott to earn the attention.

Anonymous said...

re 11.33

Yawn, another digital idiot thinking their shite job suddenly worth some merit.

I'm pretty sure no one will have ever or will ever give you any attention.

Seth A. said...

Presumably it's more useful than saying 'dress wacky and shit on other people's bins'.

Don't get me wrong, Scamp. Many of your own advice is great but some of it is far more dangerous than his.

We need people talking about writing convincing arguments because otherwise student's books are just a fucking parade of jokes i.e. Have a cool death

C'mon, Scamp. Stop spreading nonsense. At least Mr Trott is senile.

Mandy said...

Bollocks to all that.
Just make sure to be great at giving head and you'll be all right girls.

Trottski said...

I love it when a pioneer and someone Who Has Proven Himself over and over again gets slagged off by talentless copycats and stuffy basement ad executives who haven't proven themselves yet.

Really, hilarious stuff guys... keep it up.

Trottski2 said...

by the way, isn't it a classic method for small fish of finally getting some attention... taking a swing at a Big Fish?

Anonymous said...

I don't really give a fuck about his pamphlet. He gave a talk to our class when we were at Watford and it was as boring as shit (a ghost poo, not even one with sweetcorn in it).

However, I am more concerned with his uncanny likeness to Lt Thaddeus Harris from 1980s comedy movie franchise Police Academy

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7d/G.W._Bailey.jpg/453px-G.W._Bailey.jpg

Perhaps we should take him to Miami, write "Dork" on his chest in suntan cream and then threaten a shark with a gun. MOVE IT, MOVE it, MOVE IT!!!

Byeeeeeee.xxx.

PH said...

Isn't the whole 'rules' thing at odds with the creative process? Some people do it this way. Some people do it that way. Long copy. No copy. None of it matters really. You either have good ideas and express them in a way that gets the right sort of attention - or you don't. Advice be damned I say.

Scamp said...

Seth, I've never said 'dress wacky' and I've never advised anyone to shit in anyone else's bin. You're twisting my melons a bit there.

It's true I have praised Fred & Farid. That's because I strongly believe that to be a success in this business, it helps to be perceived as creative.

It's not just about BEING creative. Perception is important.

That's all I'm saying. It's true in the whole of life.

We all agree that fame helps brands. Well guess what. It's helped Fred & Farid too.

Scamp said...

Oh, Seth, you have another point I want to take issue with.

"We need people talking about writing convincing arguments" you say.

That's probably the nub of my dispute with Trotty also.

The notion that people buy products because they are convinced by arguments is completely false I'm afraid.

People are more shallow than that, more fickle, more emotional, short of time, can't be bothered to listen to rational arguments and are much more swayed by being told things are cool, sexy, or fun.

No one is convinced to buy Sony because of an argument. They just want a Sony because it's cool. They don't care how many pixels the TV has or whatever. They never have and they never will.

Even on big-ticket items like cars, it's the same. People just want a BMW, or feel comfortable with a Ford, or whatever. Only a tiny minority know how many horsepower these things have, and even then they're probably just using these kind of facts as a rational justifier.

Sorry.

Scamp said...

ph - who said 'rules'? I never say rules. I say tips.

Of course there are no 'rules'.

That doesn't mean there's no point listening to anyone's advice ever.

Helps people make up their own minds, right?

PH said...

Point taken Simon.
However, having seen that photo of you in Campaign, I don't see how your fairly sober dress sense links with the 'creatives should perceived as creative' argument.
Perhaps it's time to nip down to Camden market for a pair of leathers?
:-)

Scamp said...

Ah, the photo didn't show down as far as my trousers...

Anonymous said...

'The notion that people buy products because they are convinced by arguments is completely false I'm afraid.'

I assume you will be sending back all your shiny gongs for for King Kong and Policemen hiding behind a car. They were saying that the car was small and tough were they not? Sounds like trying to convince people with argument if you ask me.

You should have just dressed in wacky clothes, worn a silly hat, done a crazy viral/banner ad, called anyone who disagreed with your Web 2.0 approach, a dinosaur and changed your name to Napalm Dog. Not that boring old print ad which pretty much adhered to every bit of advice the Trottmeister handed out.

Besides Digital is old hat now. The new thing is doing ads that are clouds of gas. Gasvertising is the latest thing digital douchbags. You're on the scrapheap now.

ironically the word verification for this post is blowwindblowhard

Napalm Dog said...

Come on, those ads won't really convince anyone the cars are small but tough. What they are really saying is "if you like adverts that are witty and intelligent then VW is the car for you." It's pure image, my friend, pure image.

Anonymous said...

They convinced me it was small but tough. Darn it. I liked the ad for the wrong reason.

*Writes gas ad using a cloud of client-manufactured hot air*
*CD literally blows ad out*

jpandtem@googlemail.com said...

You needn't worry too much, his advice pamphlet has been available to download as a PDF for yonks! I still read it, even after he'd told me he hated me last year.

Anonymous said...

The only thing MrT has produced in the last 30 years that's worth looking at twice;

his daughter.
Well done.
Clap.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

scamp did that deleted comment have anything to do with Mr T's daughter...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scamp said...

No. It was quite rude though. I'm not interested in slagging Dave Trott off. He is one of the giants of our industry. I happen to disagree with him about how to write ads, but that's it.

I'm a huge fan of disagreements. Without them, everything would stay the same and nothing would move forward. And it's great if they're impassioned. But not if they're mean, or personal.

Anonymous said...

scamp, with your numerous posts and deleting most others, are you not just talking to yourself?

Anonymous said...

If this pamphlet was being offered up as a historical document it would have been fair enough - but Campaign's claims that it's a "timeless" "gem" is a whopping overclaim. It's concise and pragmatic, but decidedly charmless and very much rooted in its time. DT is still a practising member of our industry - would have been much more interesting to see his guide to getting a first job NOW. Or is that in next week's Campaign?

Anonymous said...

that'll be deleted..

Seth said...

Still, you're advocating a generation of phonies far more interested in dressing creatively and branding themselves "mullet & turbo" than doing great work.

A solid argument is needed to create great ads. Sony has it (colour like no other)otherwise it wouldn't make any sense. As previously mentioned, your Polo ads wouldn't make any sense if not for the fact that Small but Though is a convincing, well constructed thought. Have a cool death for Kawasaki, isn't.

Now, Fred and Fair are famous and rich yes, but so are Jordan and Crazy Frog.

Scamp said...

Mullet & Turbo? I like that. Would you mind if Scowling A.D. and I switch to those monikers?

Hmm, you argue good, Seth, but I still don't agree with you.

'Colour like no other' is not a solid argument at all - it's a completely generic claim. And that's fine. The sell is that Sony is cool. The ad is cool, so it works. Don't blame me. Blame how we're wired.

Don't try to nail me on the Kawasaki strategy. Never said I liked it.

Jordan & Crazy Frog. Very funny again. But I'm not advocating hype without talent. I'm just advising talented people to hype themselves also. Hence Fred & Farid.

Anonymous said...

Now here's a thought: Are the talented people who hype themsleves more talented, better paid and respected than those talented people who don't? And who are those who hype and those who don't need to?

* (The person formerly know as Seth) said...

You're not bad at it either, dude.

I still think colour, generic as it is provides an argument without that you can have all the balls you want and it won't make sense.

I only mentioned Kawasaki because it's what every young creative aspires to top these days.

Name a single brilliant thing F&F have done after BBH.

Last word is yours, Mullet (unless you chose Turbo)

davet said...

Guys, I'm knocked out you feel so strongly. I was worried no one would care.
Let me contribute 2 of my favourite quotes:
"If you stand for something you'll find some of the people for you and some of the people against you.
If you stand for nothing you'll find nobody for you and nobody against you." (Bill Benbach)
"Democracy is about the vitality of the debate.
It is not about crushing the opposition." (Tony Benn)
I'd love to have a debate with all you guys in person, if you can get it together.
Dave Trott

Scamp said...

Bill Bernbach and Tony Benn? What a combo. Add someone like Richard Dawkins as head of planning... that could be quite an agency.

Anyway, hi Dave. Great to have you here. Loving your debate idea. But why do it in person? Internet is better, right, cos then anyone can participate, whatever city or country they're in.

I could host a live debate between you and Scamp readers, next week maybe.

I'm thinking the topic could be something like... "Is Dave Trott's pamphlet still relevant?"

Could be fun. What does anyone think?

kaBlam said...

I'm in.

Persuade us, Mr T.

Anonymous said...

i just re-read dave trott's manifesto. and clearly it was intended for a print book world. and clearly it was written back in the 70s when hard-selling ad copy was the rage. when davids A and T ruled the land.

so it can't be be as relevant as it once was. but the strategy and positioning bits will always be worthwhile reading.

one thing i found is that ultimately creatives teach themselves. you learn by doing. a bit like cooking really.

and to be honest scamp, some of your beginners tips are a bit shallow and careerist. but some of them are bang on.

but it's nice to see Dave Trott is still at it. GGT was on of the great UK agencies. sort of a UK/USA hybrid stylewise.

davet said...

Hi Scamp,
If you can get it together I'll be there.
As Damon Runyon said, "Differences of opinion is what makes horse races."
Dave Trott

Anonymous said...

I went to see Dave Trott on wednesday this week where he personally gave me a copy of the book. Whilst doing this he also told me how long ago it was written and that not all of it will still be relevant but to do what any person should do when getting any advice, take out the bits that you think are relevant and use them.

So i think giving the book away in Campaign was with the best intentions and anyone who reads it should do as he suggested.

Anonymous said...

'Colour like no other' is not a solid argument at all - it's a completely generic claim. And that's fine. The sell is that Sony is cool. The ad is cool, so it works. Don't blame me. Blame how we're wired.

oh my god you're so wrong.
say it first when there's a parity claim and you'll own it.

philips...colour like no other than sony.

it depresses me sometimes reading this BLOG. i must be a sadist.

Jerry E. Cox said...

If you need to read books on how to be an advertising success, you're probably well on the road to mediocrity. I don't know why Dave is bothering, but he is certainly wasting his time with a lot of arrogant losers. I haven't read the book and don't intend to.