Ad Peeps Need Discipline

Ernie Schenck thinks we need some rules to guide us. His latest CA column is dedicated to this effort. He has 31 rules in all, so I’ll cherry pick a few for you to consider.

8. Art directors will not be permitted to use Photoshop until an actual concept has been determined.
11. No meaningless taglines that don’t add a damn thing to the campaign other than give the client something to put on coffee mugs and T-shirts at the annual sales meeting.
14. Whining will not be permitted under any circumstances. This includes budget whining. Account executive whining. Client whining. Client’s wife whining. Lack of creative freedom whining. What-do-you-mean-I-can’t-use-Nadav-Kander whining.
15. No goatees.
20. During office hours, no billiards, dart games, Nerf basketball or other distractions masquerading as creative stimulators will be permitted. If you want stimulation, get on a plane for Amsterdam.
25. Copywriters shall glue their laptops shut for a period of one month during which they will reacquaint themselves with a pad of paper and a No. 2 pencil. No, not a pen. Not a Pentel. A pencil.
28. Creative teams shall produce one campaign per year for a nonprofit organization of their choice with no intention of entering said campaign in any awards show anywhere on this or any other planet.

Rule 15 and rule 25 seriously infringe on my style and methodology, but you know what they say about rules…

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. The Late Sebastian Cabot says:

    Rule #32: No more lists.

  2. These lists always strike me as the POV of cranky types who remember some sort of good old days. Plenty of bad ads were done by hacks with a pencil and a pad of paper.
    And doesn’t #14 mean that this list should have never found its way into the pages of CA?
    Do agree with #25. Creatives who high-five each other around the foosball table always look like jackasses.

  3. ernie schenck says:

    I guess you missed the point, Dean. Like the Dogme Manifesto, I was just trying to strip it all down to the waist. But that’s just me. As for being cranky, what the hell are you talking about? 🙂

  4. Every Creative In The World Under 40 says:

    Damn, Ernie. How old are you, anyway?

  5. ernie schenck says:

    And that would be important to know because?…

  6. I’m with Ernie on this one. Ageism has no place here.
    As for the rules, we all know creative people hate rules. And I’m fairly certain we’ve all had to skirt our fair share of them along the way.
    “No Jeans” is the one I loathed most (from a job not worth mentioning). But there are others, like “no drinking at lunch” and “no freelance” that are just as stupid.

  7. ernie schenck says:

    David, you’re right. Advertising creatives hate rules. So do screenwriters and directors. And of course, this is why the movie business is what it is. The Dogme Manifesto was trying to strip away the crap that gets in the way of great storytelling. I think we’re guilty of that too. Photoshop and Quark are great tools. What I loathe is when creatives think a cool looking page is a great ad. It isn’t. Guys, a lot of what I wrote, I meant. A lot of it does tend to get in the way of doing great work. Goatees? No. Spending $2 million on a celebrity voiceover whose voice nobody this side of Melrose Avenue can identify? Damn right. And, David. The only “rules” I talk about are aimed at improving the creative product. As far as I’m concerned, creatives can come to work bareassed if they want. And no freelance? Don’t even suggest such a thing:)

  8. Kathy Hepinstall says:

    Seems like every time someone publishes an interesting article someone is standing by to attack it. You go, Ernie.

  9. The Late David Ogilvy says:

    Kathy Hepinstall! Be still, my beating heart!