If everyone else is doing it, I won’t. @_sarahalliday

By Sara Halliday

We had a talk from Drayton Effing Bird today, the man David Ogilvy himself described as knowing ‘more about direct marketing than anyone in the world.’ If any future intakes are reading this SCAB, know that this isn’t even the best part of the school. Hard to believe isn’t it?

One thing, in particular, struck me about Drayton’s talk, and that was his mantra: ‘If everyone else is doing it, I won’t’. This was followed by the slightly more harsh but just as poetic ‘if you’re going to be the same as everybody else, you might as well not have bothered effing existing’. Both of these statements get to the heart of what I’m trying to achieve, not just at the SCA but in my life. I pride myself on being different, I’m proud of what makes me, me. I’m proud to dress the way I dress. I’m proud to write the way I write. I want to make work that I’m proud of.

There’s a danger in being surrounded by the industry greats day-in day-out (never a phrase I thought I’d type, trust me, I know how lucky I am). That is that you can become so in awe of them that you take their word as gospel. While I’m eternally conscious that I should zig when the world zags, it’s easier in theory than in practice. We tend to imitate those we respect, and they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but I don’t want to make work that has been done before. It was suggested today that we set up a database of everyone we work with, both mentors and fellow pupils, to track data on their likes, dislikes, methods of working etc. This will be the first thing I do after sending in this blog. Tracking the people whose opinions I particularly value, and noting the best pieces of advice they’ve given to me.

I’m still figuring out the line between influence and imitation. As Marc says, being a hunter-gatherer of ideas and ads in particular. Learning through osmosis and looking at as many ads as possible lets me find out what I like about them, but I’ve had to stop myself a couple of times this week from following the ‘north star’ or organizing thought of another brand. I was producing ideas which didn’t align with my brand’s image or tone of voice. The ads could be applied to a number of brands, and I didn’t like that. I aspire to make things which are so right for the brand that people will kick themselves for not thinking of it sooner.

From now on I want to make some vows to myself (and subsequent partners, sorry gang)

  1. I will not hand in work that doesn’t excite me.
  2. I will seek feedback whenever I can.
  3. I will not take any one person’s word as gospel.

And I’ll leave you with the thought if your work is going to be the same as everybody else’s, then you might as well not have bothered (effing) making it.

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