Dave Trott doesn't mince words.
By that I mean he writes his blog in staccato prose. Hemingway would be proud.
But set aside the form. It is the content that sets Trott apart in the diminishing pantheon of great British ad writers.
He writes simply and eloquently about creativity. As you should expect he is original in his thinking. Not original in the way that James Joyce was with language, Trott is plainspeak plainspoken, but in the way he marries his own personal experience to the the telling of the story.
In his book Predatory thinking he illustrates his points with his own experiences in advertising - like the story of the expensive painting where the expensive coloured squares fell onto the managing director's office carpet or how he stopped resisting his daughter's desire to channel endless cartoons on the TV by searching out animated versions of the Shakespeare.
My favourite story in the book - which is curated from his blog - is that of Robert Stanford Tuck, World War II air ace who shot down an italian bomber only to discover it was not only no match for dog fight honed skills of British airmen - which he likens to some advertising clients.
"They’re not part of the serious business of advertising.
Of taking market share from their competitors.
They just want to make a nice commercial that everyone likes.
Or do some nice online films that might go a little bit viral.
Something that everyone quite likes.
But nothing too controversial.
Not messages that will upset the competition.
Not anything that will make anyone uncomfortable.
They don’t really want to make waves.
They don’t want to cause a fuss.
They don’t really want to fight.
Which suggests they’re in the wrong job.
Because marketing, like war, is a zero-sum game.
If you want something you have to take it from someone else.
In order for someone to win, someone has to lose.
Adam Morgan described it as “like a knife-fight in a phone box”.
There isn’t anywhere to hide.
There isn’t any place for bystanders.
Everyone has to choose.
Do they want to be the predator or the prey?
Because, if they don’t choose, the choice gets made for them,
Like the Italian Air Force."
Read the full post here.
A masterclass in outwitting the competition
Trott is chaiman of The Gate ad agency. He was the creative force behind Gold Greenlees Trott and has D&AD President's Award on his mantlepiece.
He penned the legendary Hello Tosh got a Toshiba ad - which might seem quaint today but was notable for not only its populist riff (when the Poms were still ever so proper), repurposing Alexei Sayle's Hullo John Gotta New Motor - but also for its novel use of computer graphics. (Hey - they were touting flat screen as if it was the second coming…now Samsung are distorting reality with curved screens…how times change).
Read this book - it is timeless.
This blog is a notepad of contemporaneous and sometimes extemporaneous thoughts about creativity, strategy and ideas.