Hall of Fame Copywriter On Running A Great Agency: Stuff The Place Full of Talent

David Abbott, the retired chairman and creative director of Abbott Mead Vickers in London, is one of this year’s inductees into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

Abbott, an Oxford grad, started as a copywriter at Mather & Crowther, and later worked for DDB in New York and London.

According to Rance Crain of Ad Age, AMV selectively picked its clients based on personal likeability. Abbott also says running an agency is no big.

Mr. Abbott contended that running a great advertising agency is not very difficult. “You basically stuff the place full of talent and allow that talent to bloom. So you have to have something that makes the great people want to come and work for you. And it’s never money. You can always earn more money at a bad agency because they need you more.”

“But,” he cautioned, “you don’t do great work in a bad agency. And that’s what drives people. You know, you basically don’t need to crack a whip. They’re cracking whips on themselves.”

Last year, Abbott’s first novel, The Upright Piano Player, was published and the reviews have been positive. The Los Angeles Times says, “Abbott has peered over the edge to write this gripping novel, a reminder of how little control we have over our lives.”

About David Burn

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. After working for seven agencies in five states and freelancing for several more, I ventured out on my own in 2009. Today, as head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon, I'm focused on providing effective integrated marketing solutions to mid-market clients.


  1. The most talented team wins the majority of the time in sports, so why wouldn’t it work in advertising?

  2. This rings true.  The only thing that beats doing what you enjoy is being allowed to fully explore your talent’s possibilities.  This makes work not only fulfilling but also inspires you to achieve even more.  Thanks for this post.  Now I’m off to find a copy of Abbott’s novel.  🙂