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Legend In Your Own Time

Do you get the message? —OOH …Here’s One Thing 

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Outfront Media NYC MTA

OOH …Here’s One Thing 

Legend In Your Own Time


by Jim Johnsen,
Managing Director, Johnsen, Fretty & Company




Ever hear of the mad man you never heard about?  Johnsen, is that English?  probably not but, but it is advertising. And now I have got you.  A friend of mine is trying to help finance a film on an advertising legend by the name of George Lois.  I had never heard of him before.  But after watching my buddy’s promotional trailer, I became a little intrigued and decided to ask Mr. Google what he was all about.  

I started here, George Lois – Wikipedia, although it didn’t seem to catch the soul of this firecracker.  It did however once again demonstrate that super fine line between creative genius and plagiarist.  Sounds like he did take some liberties with authorship from time to time (what boss doesn’t), and it also sounds like he was so darn good that all his former partners were jealous to the point of spite…but hey that’s just my read on the wiki entry.  I did love Lois’ quote when asked how realistic the series Mad Men was:

“Mad Men misrepresents the advertising industry of my time by ignoring the dynamics of the Creative Revolution that changed the world of communications forever … That dynamic period of counterculture in the 1960s found expression on Madison Avenue through a new creative generation—a rebellious coterie of art directors and copywriters who understood that visual and verbal expression were indivisible, who bridled under the old rules that consigned them to secondary roles in the ad-making process dominated by non-creative hacks and technocrats … It was a testy time to be a graphic designer like me who had the rage to communicate and, to create icon rather than con. And, unlike the TV Mad Men, we worked full, exhausting, joyous days: pitching new business, creating ideas, “comping” them up, storyboarding them, selling them, photographing them, and directing commercials”.[3]  (George Lois)

You intrigued about this guy yet?  How about I give you just a teaser or two from his 1990s book titled What’s The Big Idea?.  Here are a few of his chapter titles:  “1.  A Thoughtful Definition of Our Subject: Advertising is Poison Gas; 4. How to Simplify Marketing Mumbo Jumbo: Define the problem in one short sentence; 5. The Pricking of Positioning Or…Always unzip your fly before taking a leak”.

Not yet convinced that this guy was an unsung rock star?  Here is one excerpt from his book that I think anyone in the ad business would like:
“I suppose the phrase poison gas is probably excessive and may be a harsh image, but I regard it as forgivable hyperbole because it certainly describes the powerful possibilities of advertising.  Great advertising should have the impact of a punch in the mouth.  And great advertising should never kneel or genuflect or plead for the sale.  It should ask, without literally asking, “Do you get the message?”  And the viewer should answer, without literally answering, “Yeah, I got it!”

Okay Johnsen, the guy is impressive, but so what?  So What!  If you are proud to be in the advertising business, and be the best version of yourself, then we should all know about greats like this.  I can’t wait to read a few of his books cover to cover. 

message for DPAA Summit 2022

Speaking of Legends, Mr. Barry Frey‘s DPAA Summit is back with a vengeance this coming Tuesday at Pier 60.  Barry tells me it’s the world’s largest one day media and marketing event.  While the line up has always been good, Barry’s starpower brings us the likes of the Global World Anchor of BBC (Katty Kay), CMO’s and other C suite execs from Adidas, Microsoft, Fresh Direct, Wolverine, CVS, Claire’s, as well all the OOH leaders from media owners to programmatic and Ad Agencies.  Knowing Barry a little, my guess is he has some next level surprises for us as well throughout the day.  Hope to see many of you there.  

(PS, the show is sold out, but you might be able to sweet talk one the DPAA peps to sell you a ticket if you are on a first name basis).

Back in the New York Groove

Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC

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