Check out some great work from Kash Sree.
WS: What do you look for in a student book? And what impresses you?
KS: What impresses me? Clarity of thought. Freshness of thinking, too. And sometimes those two can fight each other. Just getting it. Stopping power. What’s happening now is there’s a lot of the “Crispin-ization” [Crispin Porter + Bogusky] of books as everyone goes 360, forgetting that what you need is an idea first of all that then spreads out. Not, “I’ve got all these bases covered.” So I personally like to see a strong idea that’s got some sort of legs, or can resonate. This is something that Crispin actually does, but students misinterpret and just scattergun weak ideas across different media.
I’ve got three rules that I like to apply when I’m looking at print ads, or any ads. And that’s, one, does it stop me? Two, is it original? Because you don’t want to be advertising someone else’s product. And three, does it make me buy into the product? Now by that, I don’t mean, you’re not going to rush out and go and grab it off the shelves, like they did in the sixties. We were still getting out of the war and were just not used to having stuff. But you’re creating this relationship with the products. So if your ad makes people reconsider–it’s like, “I wouldn’t mind hanging out with that product.” And when you need a product of that type, that one will be on your list. That’s enough. That’s what I want them to do. So that’s my three rules.
Other student-book things: don’t create pollution. A lot of people want to do things like, “Oh, I’m going to do something in a lavatory. Or I’m going to do something just outside your front door.” Unless it’s really engaging, unless I really am interested in it and it enriches my life in some way, I’m going to be five times to twenty times more angry at you for encroaching on another piece of my life with a piece of bullshit fucking advertising. Make it something that enriches my life, not fucks it up a bit more.
Other things for students: be prepared to listen. A lot of students come and say, “Well, someone else liked this.” I said, “Well, why didn’t they give you a fucking job, then? They’re being nice to you.” It’s way easier to go to a student and say, “Oh yeah, that’s a really nice book. Yeah, keep trying. See ya!” And then not take your calls anymore. It’s a lot harder to be a bastard and sort of say, “Okay, this is going to be confrontational. It’s going to hurt. And it’s going to hurt me saying it.” Because you do get tensed up. But you say, “This sucks, because…” But you’ve got to say the “because.” And, “This is how you can fix it. And this is good because…” But you’ve got to be ready to hear someone say, “I don’t like this.” And then do something about it. Even if it took you months to put together. Put another one together. It’s slower to think, “My book is perfect.” I’ve seen guys do this—quite good guys—say, “My book is perfect,” and wait for someone to say, “Your book is perfect.” Rather than change the whole fucking book. Because…changing the whole book might take two months. Waiting for someone to say it’s perfect might take four years. And it wouldn’t be a very good person that says it was perfect.