Seriously Proud: Just Named Official Training Partner to NABS

Sep 15, 2011

Joan McArthur Training & Consulting has been appointed official training partner to NABS (National Advertising Benevolent Society). NABS is Canada’s highly regarded not-for-profit association that provides support for the advertising and marketing community, including personal and financial help as well as new programs across a wide spectrum of professional development.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the buzz about the ‘new’ NABS. They’ve been really kickin’ it since the arrival of a dynamic new team, Jim Warrington, Executive Director and Louise Berube, Director of Allocations and Services. Just in the last 90 days, Louise and Jim have designed and executed some really cool new industry events such as the CN Tower Rim Walk where agency/marketing teams braved the Tower’s exterior walkway at the top (see the video on Marketing Magazine’s website). At the same time they put together a city-wide treasure hunt (Hunt4NABS), a day-long scramble ending in a big uproarious celebration at the Ultra Supper Club.

There’s the race across the Sahara. And the upcoming Kilimanjaro climb.
And just because she’s not busy enough (ha) Louise has also developed this extraordinary and important new training/development program – which I’m so proud to be part of. We have already done several events and have many more in the pipeline. So…stay tuned.

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You Mean There’s a Name For It? (Part 2)

Jun 8, 2011

Barneys New York, back when it was still just Barney’s Mens Store, was a showcase account for Scali McCabe Sloves – although there was hardly an account at the agency that didn’t win awards and plenty of them. But there was something about working on Barney’s. Just the list of writers who’d created its history of legendary ads was enough to give a rookie the night terrors.

A writer named Steve Gordon, for example, came up with the classic Barney’s commercial, ‘Men of Destiny.’ He went on to write and direct the movie ARTHUR. And, of course, Ed McCabe himself who wrote the infamous line ‘You Go Out of Your Way to Get Here, We Have to Pay You Back.’ (For the uninitiated the original Barneys was at 7th Avenue and 17th Street, hardly New York’s shopping mecca in the 60s and 70s.)

Just before I started working on the Barney’s account, a young eager account executive was hired and even though he was as handsome and preppy looking as, well, a model out of any Barneys ad, he was just another nervous kid excited as hell to be working on Barneys. But for all the great ad potential, for all the great awards, Barney’s was still considered one of the toughest high-profile accounts to work on in New York. A tough account with a tough client. Milt Guttenplan.

If the name alone presents you with an image, it’s probably right. Milt came across as a dour man who’d seen too much to suffer fools easily. He had high standards and an unyielding loyalty to that store. He was part of its fabric. He protected its image like a mean junkyard dog.

Which was great if you were a writer trying to do great ads for Barney’s, because Milt demanded nothing less. So for a creative person, a client like Milt Guttenplan was a dream come true – incredibly the first ad we did for Barney’s won a One Show gold pencil for me and my art director partner, Carl Stewart. Yes, Carl and I loved Milt. But, if you were an account guy – and were missing a certain thickness about the skin – Milt could be a challenge and then some.

Yes, he reserved his most punishing ire for account executives. ( I think Milt confused nervous zeal for insincerity – and insincerity was intolerable.)

One day, our chronically beleaguered account guy shambled in to the office where Carl and I along with a few other creative people were corralled. He looked terrible.
“Just coming back from Barney’s?,” somebody asked.
“Oh man,” he said “I can’t take this. You can’t…I mean, you wouldn’t believe what working on this account is…doing to me. I don’t even want to talk about it…”
“Oh yeah,” Carl said matter of factly. “You can’t get it up, right?”
“Wha…?
“We’ve seen it before,” Carl offered. Heads nodded.
“We call it the Barney’s Syndrome…”
The account guy’s jaw dropped.
“You mean there’s a name for it??!!”

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How To Get A Job In The Ad Business – The Charlie Moss Hiring Test

Jun 6, 2011


I consider myself a darn good sport in introducing Charlie Moss (the legendary creative head of Wells Rich Greene responsible for, among other things, the brilliant I Love New York campaign) to a copywriter named Greg Voornas.

Every once in a while a copywriter like Greg comes along, one of those rare talents who manage to be creative and consistent at the same time; the ones that are hungry, resourceful and never run out of juice. So it’s not surprising he was a key part of us winning the Microsoft business when Tom Cordner and I were Co-Creative Directors of Ogilvy & Mather, L.A. We had a solid line-up of stellar talent – many of whom had happily followed Tom from Chiat/Day – and Greg did an amazing job as one of the creative leads on the fabulous labyrinth that was Microsoft.

One day Greg walked into my office and told me he wanted to go to New York. This was not great news, but I knew very well the hypnotizing draw of New York City. New York is magic and I had some first-hand experience. Greg then went on to explain that he hated to walk away from Microsoft but perhaps he could land a job on, say, the IBM account. Which happened to be headed up by my old boss, Charlie Moss, when I was creative director of Wells Rich Greene’s L.A office.

Never one to stand in the way of another free place to stay to New York, I made the introduction and the rest was up to Greg. Well, Charlie liked Greg’s portfolio – which Greg had flown to him in New York – and was prepared to fly Greg in for a live meeting. So off Greg went to New York to meet the one and only Charlie Moss. Several days later I walked into my office to find a stunned and decidedly shaky Greg. He got the job, he said. And here’s what he told me about his interview with Charlie Moss.

First, Charlie flew him (and First-Class, doncha know) to New York. He was then taken directly to his waiting suite at the Plaza Hotel, from which he could get out and see New York a little before his interview the next morning at the Wells Rich Greene offices high up in the General Motors Building – located on 5th Avenue right across from the hotel.

He told me he’d never seen anything as posh as the Wells Rich Greene offices. Yes, I knew them well and in fact had spent a year or two working in the New York office. (As an art director told me when I first got there, “There are Picassos on the walls, but it doesn’t take long to find out they’re not for you.”) It would be later when Greg would see Mary’s (Wells) own suite of offices, personally decorated by the great Billy Baldwin and including both a private dressing room and a butler. Right. A butler.

Greg told me about being escorted to Charlie’s office for the interview. Which, he explained, was curiously brief.

“Charlie said he brought me all the way from L.A. for just one reason.”
“And that was?” I asked.
“To see if I was an asshole.”

Greg Voornas went on to become Vice President/Creative Group Head during his seven years on IBM at Wells, Rich, Greene New York.

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