A Pledge, & the Nincompoop Forest

So we just had an creative department meeting.

And in it, this is what we discussed:


We talked about what it means to do work inside these walls. The walls of Chiat Day. And we talked about how most of the work out in the world is bad. And how a lot of it is good. And a few… are great. The best in their category. And then some things, just a few, transcend that. And become iconic.

We talked about the iconic work TBWA\Chiat\Day has done. We watched a video in which Lee Clow walked us through the work that makes him proud to be part of this agency.

Like this:

And this:

And this (which I really like, personally):

And this:

And then we signed a pledge. To do one piece of iconic work in the next six months.
Signing away my next six months!

And then Lee read us something called the Nincompoop Forest, by Mark Fenske. And I’m really glad he did. Because while we may try to think of iconic ideas all the time, it is quite a different thing to actually sell and make them.

Here it is:

“For an idea to live it must journey from the mind of it’s originator out into the ears of others, into the world.

To live it must cross an area that is dangerous to the life of an idea… an area between the mind of an originator and the world where other people live who fight against ideas and try to kill them. This area, that challenges every ad idea the moment it is born is called the Nincompoop Forest.

To find your way through the Nincompoop Forest takes heart, intelligence and determination.

There are many obstacles lying in wait. Some people fear big ideas or are afraid to defend them or don’t know how to explain or sell them.

Some people are afraid to buy big ideas because, by their nature, they have never been done before and can be scary. (It’s been said that if you’re not scared of an idea, it probably is not a big idea at all.)

You’ll have to save your idea from all the people who want to change the idea, “help” the idea, compromise the idea. They want to “make it better” or safer or less expensive or more comfortable.

All great ideas have to beware of the Nincompoop Forest.”

So until you hear from us next, we’ll be battling the Nincompoop Forest and working away on that pledge to do some iconic work. Wish us luck and bring us a few axes. We’ve got a lot of trees to chop down!



*A PS UPDATE* For the amount of comments on this post, and the content of those comments, we’ve responded. Read it here, if you’d like!



Filed under lali

19 responses to “A Pledge, & the Nincompoop Forest

  1. s

    Whoa. You guys are mind-bustingly self-absorbed.

    Have fun up your own ass. You seem far enough up there that you’ll be lost for at least… ohh, let’s say… six months.

  2. Anonymous

    this is gag-inducing.

  3. Anonymous

    You wrote an award winning thesis and you never got less than an A (ok, A-) on any English paper written in college, and yet your writing here is atrocious. As for the pledge, it made my day. The stupidest thing I’ve read about since the push-pin contest at McCann NY.

  4. Anonymous

    Here’s a thing worth remembering: genuinely iconic work doesn’t set out to be iconic; most of the bad work in the world, does.

  5. Good grief. This is the phoniest thing Ive read in quite a while.

  6. We had the same talk at the Manila office!

    Guess you need to be there and get the ECD presentation to feel it.

  7. Anonymous

    Can you set out to make something iconic? An iconic piece of work would be something that represents you at your creative zenith, and to say that you have to reach that in the next 6 months shows a real misunderstanding of creativity.

    Who judges the work and what happens to the people who don’t make anything iconic?

  8. N/a

    Personally, I love this. I work on the other side of the industry, in Marketing, and I’m always fascinated by how our agencies work. Based on the other 7 comments here, I understand why so many of our creatives are hard to work with. But the genuine joie de vivre expressed in this internal alignment, that’s wonderful.

    The next step is to set some goals, real number stuff. Although iconic is a great start, it’s too nebulous to be actionable. :)

  9. I think you guys might be taking yourselves a wee bit too seriously with this one. I also think you’re setting yourselves up for failure, because I doubt you can intentionally create “iconic” work.

    But hey, as long as you’re having fun and the clients are happy, what else matters?

  10. Jill

    They just all signed their own termination papers. Will Chiat have any creatives left after 6-months? Do they have any now?

  11. Ryan Simonson

    Yikes, the jealousy ’round here sure does sting the eyes. From the comments you’d think striving to do great work is something to be admonished, rather than praised.

    I found it inspiring. Keep up the great work lali’s, from one former Book Shopper to two others.


  12. Thanks Ryan. The comments have been vitriolic. It’s amazing, really. It’s because agency spy picked up the story. And people love to hate on Chiat on agency spy.

    We’ve got to aim for something. We’re not here to sit around and concept bad work (which we do a lot of). The agency is trying to inspire us. That’s all. It’s just easy for people to sit outside these walls and judge it. But this kind of stuff happens in every agency. We all have internal pep rallies.

    I may blog a response to the negative feedback. We’ve NEVER had negative comments like this.

  13. Pingback: Responses to our “Iconic Pledge” & the Nincompoop Forest | lali adverts

  14. Pingback: Response to: Chiat’s Iconic Pledge | lali adverts

  15. I applaud your enthusiasm and your belief.
    The most important thing we need in this agency world is hope.

    Be iconic.

  16. NoRo

    Haters are gonna hate, nothing you can do about that. It seems like they’re taking something meant to be inspirational a bit too literally and are totally missing the point. Also, how pathetic does your life have to be to troll through blog posts commenting on grammar? Fuck that person. Keep up the good work ladies, I’m sure you’ll still be employed in 6 months and I know you’ve got tons of iconic work yet to be unleashed on the world.

  17. Perhaps you should begin with a pledge to stop abusing the English language.

  18. Anonymous

    Advertising is a business of people who drink the kool aid and people who don’t. Those that don’t freelance, start up a truly iconic creative shop or end up being bitter writers, artists and marketing people. Those that do, stay and climb the “shit heap”. You can’t hate those that blindly believe in the Chiat Day. I guess in order to succeed, you have to believe. Lali- both of you believe- kuddos for that. Because of that, both of you will make it far and reach the top of the smelly shit heap. You will do it in classic Chiat style, backstabbing, throwing people under the bus, sucking the life of some bright eyed art directors/copywriters etc. But you will get there. Hell you may even replace the mighty Rob Schwartz. Speaking of Rob, I always wondered what his claim to fame was. But enough of that. Ask yourselves this- do you want to be working at a place where they dream of past glories and rally their talent by signing a stupid piece of paper? Seriously. All the work you saw on the reels is old. Probably as old as you guys if not older. If there was anything new, I’m sure it’s good, but nowhere as iconic as the old stuff. All I got from this story was a giant agency whose best days are behind it. In order to rally whatever talent was left, they came up with some stupid contract. It seems to me, all the best work in our line of work ( yes I am a creative and I have toiled at the Chiat Day too) comes from smaller agencies. In this town, I am starting to notice the best work comes from people who have left the Chiat and start their own firms. Do yourselves a favor- if you truly want to do iconic work, leave. I don’t doubt you are talented. You can’t do anything amazing if you are celebrating past glories. whoo! 1984 was awesome! The Pedigree campaign was cool. No one remembers the Pepsi stuff. Visa isn’t very memorable either. Gatorade- eh. I remember the Michael Jordan stuff done at another agency, but what the hell is G anyways. The new Nissan stuff. The polar bear was cool. Nothing memorable will come from a place whose leaders live in the clouds, dreaming of the olden days. Also, be a little more humble and try not to kiss so much ass. Too much ass kissing makes you lots of enemies and you don’t climb very high on the shit heap. Look around you. You don’t have to look too far in your Nissan team to see what happens when you suck up too much and behave like an utter ass. Good luck ladies. I hope you make it, whether it’s inside the Chiat or elsewhere.

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