now advertising news blog john hegarty keeper of the flame john townshend

Sir John Hegarty, the Keeper of the Creative Flame

We are lucky.

One of advertising’s greatest practitioners – John Hegarty – came in to talk to us yesterday. It’s wonderful to hear from someone who’s done it, and who’s as excited about the possibilities as ever.

And what was most interesting was how rapt the audience of Nowers was. In a world of digi-tech-programmatic, John reminded us of what we are here to do. And his words chimed with the young folk here as much as the old hands like me.

I won’t try to re-hash Hegarty’s talk, I’ll just tell you what he said. You’ll understand exactly the points he’s making;

On the changing world: ‘Principles remain, practices change.’

On digital: ‘Technology creates opportunity. Creativity creates value.’

On the over-emphasis on promotion: ‘There is a difference between persuasion and promotion. If you’re not persuading there is no point promoting.’

On brands: ‘A brand is made not just by the people who buy it, but by the people who know about it. Fame is fundamentally important. You might never buy a Rolls-Royce car or a Taylor Swift record, but you know they exist and what they are about.’

On fame: ‘Don’t mix up fame and celebrity. Fame is to be renowned and be held in great esteem.’

On the purpose of a brand: ‘A brand’s function is about going out and conquering. About converting the masses, not talking to the converted.’

On brands in society: ‘A brand must be part of culture, that’s what makes it interesting and valuable.’

On running a creative business: ‘You can’t have a creative business without creative people at the top of it.’

On account management: ‘Account people should see themselves as the managers of a band, creating the environment for their creativity.’

On agency start-ups: ‘Don’t start a business, build a brand.’

On agency positionings: ‘What’s odd is that we’re an industry that advises brands on being different, but as agencies we’re all the same.’

On BBH’s ethos at launch: ‘Turning intelligence into magic.’

On agencies today: ‘Agencies have become over-processed.’

On creativity: ‘You’ve got to be fearless.’

On now: ‘This is the most exciting time to be in the creative industry.’

And this is what the people at Now said:

‘It was like a creative reboot.’ Roger Morris.

‘I thought it was a laser-like reminder of the fundamentals that sometimes get shrouded by the complexity of it all.’ Dave Mannall.

‘Everything that’s good about advertising, in one charming, modest man. Thank you John Hegarty.’ John Townshend.

Written by John Townshend, Chairman at Now

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