Great Ideas, Personality And Passion Is What Sells

Mark Wnek, chairman-chief creative officer of Lowe, New York, claims in Ad Age that he’s not a great presenter, but that he has passion for the work and that’s what’s needed in a creative leader.

I have a confession to make: I’m a rotten presenter. When I think about the creative directors whom I most admire, they are all average presenters at best. Where their talents lie is in producing brilliant, effective work for their clients.
Most (me included) are no oil paintings. Many drink too much and throw tantrums. Mostly, they shouldn’t be allowed out unaccompanied by an adult. Which reminds me of Baudelaire’s definition of genius: the ability to recapture childhood at will.
The most important quality that all good creative directors share is a passion for great work. And passion isn’t always pretty. Often it is messy, inconvenient, and un-house-trained. It doesn’t always fit in an expensive suit or smart sports coat. It doesn’t furnish its possessor with client-friendly savoir-faire.

I find it hard to believe Wnek lacks presentation skills. When I think of the Chief Creative Officers I’ve worked closely with–particularly Steve Stith at Integer and Scott Seymour at BFG Communications–they own the room when it is their turn to speak. Their personal presence and clear confidence in what they say and do wins clients over time and time again.
Wnek also brings up the spoiled child syndrome that threatens to discredit our industry. I have worked with whiny little babies before, but never have I thought they actually belonged in the agency. Advertising is a powerful industry full of creative and passionate people, all of whom ought to be capable of acting their age. I understand some choose to coddle the babies due to their ability to make ads, but that’s a mistake in my opinion. There’s lots of talent out there, so why drag yourself and your agency down with unnecessary drama?



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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.