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Thoughts

The student section V. 1. Inspiration and Arden

— Culture & Observations —

Paul Arden on advertising and inspiration

I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to talk to college students about advertising. It’s awesomely rewarding and great to see fresh faces who, while I’m talking, realize A) that advertising is their calling, or B) That advertising is something they don’t want to be within 2 feet of, or C) I’m crazy.

One of the things I pull from for inspiration and something I use in my presentation is pages from a book by Paul Arden called “It’s Not How Good You Are. It’s How Good You Want To Be.”

It is, in my opinion, the best book about advertising ever written (feel free to share your opinion in the comments).

One of the spreads in the book, pictured above, implores the reader to “get out of advertising.” This really hit home for me because in my early days of advertising we used to surround ourselves with One Show books and Communication Arts annuals and Archive Magazines, etc. looking at ads like fanatics. There is great learning there. But thanks to digital, the advertising landscape is much more complicated. And there is so much more in to learn from the world around us.

To come up with great ideas you must branch out. You must suck up every piece of pop culture that appeals to you. Build a library in your brain of words, images, movie sequences, pop songs, photos, ephemera, and stuff that sits at the top of garbage cans. You never know.

It also has a lot to do with blogging too, which is my real reason for bringing this up. I routinely see blank faces when the prospect of blogging even enters their sphere. “What should I write about?” they ask. “I don’t know what to write about.”

I ask those that don’t know what to write about to channel Paul Arden and look around. There are topics under your nose every minute of every day. It could come out of a conversation you had. A movie you saw. A song you heard. Find a way to apply those things to the main topic of your blog. Don’t worry about eloquence, just focus on being clear. And remember, for inspiration, whenever possible, get out of advertising.

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