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Learning’s From The Great Masters of Communication

It is with hindsight that I regrettably realise how much more I could have effectively achieved, if only I had paid greater heed to the wisdom of Leo Burnett, named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people of the Twentieth Century, Bill Bernbach, often referred to as ‘The Father of Modern Advertising’, and famed Film Director, Producer and Writer, Frank Capra.

Their resonating quotes are succinct reminders that verbal-visual communication has never been a science with prescriptive formulae for creative solutions, nor will it ever be.

It is an art that can be compellingly impressionistic, expressionistic, surrealistic, realistic, figurative, literal, historical, topical, metaphorical, or allegorical.

And like all communication arts, human insights play a pivotal role in how externalised messages by senders are internalised for meaning by the receivers.

On The Art of Persuasion

William Bernbach:

“There are a lot of great technicians in advertising. And unfortunately they talk the best game. They know all the rules; but there’s one little rub. They forget that advertising is persuasion, and persuasion is not a science, but an art. Advertising is the art of persuasion”.

“We don’t ask research to do what it was never meant to do, and that is to get an idea”.

On Human Insights

William Bernbach:

“It is insight into human nature that is the key to the communicator’s skill. For whereas the writer is concerned with what he puts into his writings, the communicator is concerned with what the reader gets out of it. He therefore becomes a student of how people read or listen”.

Leo Burnett:

“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind”.

On Creative Intuition

Leo Burnett:

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people. Steep yourself in your subject, work like hell, and love, honor and obey your hunches”.

Frank Capra:

“A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something”.

 On Message and Meaning

William Bernbach:

“You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut, because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen”.

“Getting your product known isn’t the answer. Getting it WANTED is the answer.”

On Creative Execution

Leo Burnett:

“I am one who believes that one of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but that of boring them to death”.

“I have learned that any fool can write a bad ad, but that it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one”.

William Bernbach:

“Execution becomes content in a work of genius”.

“The difference between the forgettable and the enduring is artistry”.

“If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic”.

Frank Capra:

“I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries”.

On Selling Creative Proposals

Leo Burnett:

“I have learned that you can’t have good advertising without a good client, that you can’t keep a good client without good advertising, and no client will ever buy better advertising than he understands or has an appetite for”.