We try harder – By @HFoenander

By Henry Foenander



We try harder


Today we found out the scores on our last big brief. The work my partner and I submitted came in second place. This is now the third or fourth time work I have done has come in second, and I hate it. 


There’s something especially gut wrenching about coming close to being successful, but not quite managing it. It reminds me of the Street Wisdom session we did back in term one, where I spent 20 minutes watching and observing the goings-ons in a betting shop. The betters who won on the horses were chuffed, the ones whose horses fell immediately were chuckling with apathy, but those whose horses came second, or fell at the last hurdle, were furious.  


If I was 10 and back at school I imagine I’d have a cheery chubby teacher telling me that “second place is great” or “you could have come third!”, if someone said that to me at SCA I’d flex my facial muscles, stand up straight, and give them my most passive aggressive scowl. Coming second in this school is failing. I don’t agree with the school’s slogan ‘we sell or we die’, but that level of aggression is what we need to succeed. In an agency i want to be beating the senior teams, not nearly beating them, not almost, not close, but actually wiping the floor with them, how else can a creative prove themselves other than winning the brief? 

It’s time for me to take some advice from one of the best campaigns ever made, Avis. They, like me, were in second place, they could have celebrated that, they could have cracked open a bottle, patted themselves on the back and settled. What they did, was get angry. Angry at themselves for not pushing hard enough to be No.1. They became so enraged at this, they used it as the basis for their ad campaign, what the line “We try harder” is actually saying, is “We refuse to settle”, strong stuff. 


Similarly, our craft mentor Ian, gave me some advice a while ago. He said “never say: just”. I took this as don’t ‘just’ do something, do it firmly, wholeheartedly and with fire, or don’t do it at all, there’s no place for the suffix ‘ish’ in this school. 


So like Avis, who were famously the second best in car rentals, I have to try harder. And to remind me that if I’m not winning, I’m by definition losing, here’s a little treat for everyone. If you come in contact with me, and you get the feeling I’ve forgotten how aggravating it is to be a runner-up, just call me Second Place Henry, then smirk and walk away. 

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