Response to: Chiat’s Iconic Pledge

So we recently blogged about a pledge we took at TBWA\Chiat\Day. To read that post (and examine, according to the scathing comments, my terrible grammar, which I hope is more a result of my laziness, busy-ness & unwillingness to proofread before posting than my actual intelligence), go here.

The story about the “pledge” got picked up by agencyspy. And then copyranter (who apparently hates most things, including advertising, fake blondes, real blondes, people who don’t hate things) covered it. And then adland mentioned it as well (who coincidentally called our post nincompoop, although whether that referred to the subject of the blog post or us personally I’m not quite clear).

And then the flurry of vitriolic comment emails began to flood li’s inbox.

Here’s an overview:
blog comments
And more here:
A Pledge, & the Nincompoop Forest comments

And says “Vinnie” (no link available) on the copyranter post (a derogatory word “edited” by me, not Vinnie):

“Wow. I hope the Grammar [C*nt] is reading this.
This individual needs to be sacked immediately.”

That’s the second time it’s ever been recommended that I be fired for writing something. The first was an ad that was considered sexist. The second time (this time) has been for my grammatical errors on the blog. Meh, I wouldn’t fire me for that (li agrees!). Besides, as commenters have suggested, we may be “fired” in six months anyway!

So why so negative? Is it because it came from Chiat Day? And because people love to hate on Chiat? Because we’ve got big clients with big budgets and big work. And just like every agency, we’ve got problems, and because we’re big, they seem bigger?

Is it because creative people are inherently critical? Is it because this industry is full of jaded, glass-half-empty, secretly-want-to-be-screenwriters people who pretend to be above everything and not care about anything because to hack it here you have to be cool? Ok, that was a bit harsh. But sometimes the pendulum of advertising mindsets swings from the artificially cheerleader-y to the bitterly cynical. And where it probably should be is resting somewhere right in the middle.

At the end of the day, lots of people in this industry talk about “good work.” And inspire us to do good work. When I worked at RPA we had similar gimmicks associated with goals, work & creativity. Li as well, at Saatchi. The desktops at KPS+B say “do things that matter.” There are endless examples that I can’t think of currently (examples anyone?). The only thing Chiat did differently than the rest of the industry waxing poetic about “good work” is that they just asked us to aim for “iconic” and to commit to it. It’s simply a tactic to inspire. I mean, my mom used to ask me to do “better than my best” and when I got a 95% she wasn’t satisfied until I’d gotten 100%. Chiat’s just doing the same thing right now that my mom did for me throughout school. Ask me to aim for the best I can do. And for everyone who loves to hate on Chiat for never doing good work, why isn’t anyone commending Chiat for wanting to do better? Or is it just the way Chiat went about doing it…?

Whatever the casing, whatever the reaction and whatever the climate, the sentiment is a common one, a real one and sometimes, an inspiring one. And apparently, one for discussion.

So for now, we’ll welcome a few more readers (our blog views totally spiked, thanks guys!), take the criticism seriously & lightly at the same time, and keep doing what we’ve pledged to do: work hard & work good. And hopefully something iconic, great or just plain good comes out of it.

And we appreciate the positive comments when they come. Thanks Ryan!

blog comments

Ok, back to work! Comments, as always, welcome and encouraged!




Filed under lali

24 responses to “Response to: Chiat’s Iconic Pledge

  1. Pingback: A Pledge, & the Nincompoop Forest | lali adverts

  2. Pingback: Yes, There is a Response to Chiat’s ‘Blood Oath’ - AgencySpy

  3. Anonymous

    Some of the comments were indeed petty and spiteful, but there was an interesting point raised.

    Most iconic work wasn’t made to be iconic.

    I don’t doubt the sincerity of the idea and it’s important to remind people to aim higher, but the issue most people seemed to have was that ‘iconic’ is a really subjective term.

    This wasn’t helped by the fact that the boss showed you some really old ads and pretty much said, “like this”.

    It also runs the risk of putting the execution before the idea and the idea before the needs of the client.

    Your work for Nissan (or Toyota or whatever) might not be iconic, but it probably helped shift more cars. Therefore it works. And surely that’s the point?

    This pledge also heaps the pressure on you guys and the agency, as the more negative souls in the industry will now scrutinise every piece of work you do over the next six months just to take pot shots.

    Did anyone actually refuse to sign the pledge?

  4. Hawkins

    I think if they’re taking this seriously, sure it can come off as pretentious

    I think as a rah-rah band together type thing, it’s harmless symbolism/team building stuff

    I tend to fall somewhere in the middle re: the creative process, you do what matters to you and hope it matters to someone else. Iconic isn’t for those of us doing the making to judge.

    Keep on keeping on, happy for your success.

    another former bookshop (Li, La) and UCLA Ad classmate (Li)

  5. Hawkins

    (actually UCLA was LA…I suck at shorthand)

  6. Beth

    Hi Lauren, hi Lindsey,

    Lindsey just reconnected with me and it reminded me to check your wonderful blog. This whole pledge-drama chain is awesome and hilarious.

    I have a few questions though. What exactly happens when you succeed at creating iconic work? Is there an iconic-work-alert system in place? Does an alarm go off, and Titanium Lions start falling from the sprinkler system?

    Can the iconic work be a tweet? A banner ad? A Facebook thingie? How media neutral is this pledge?

    Have you thought about making an Iconiclock, counting down the remaining time before pencils down, iconic work will no longer be accepted? Can this iconiclock be programmed to send me hourly reminders to be iconic?

    Lastly: what prize do you get for making iconic work? Do you get a coupon for free burritos? A wing of the building named after you? Do you get to be Lee Clow?

    I hope it’s that you win an iPod.

    I miss you guys, and I’m so proud of you for the work you’re doing. This whole advertising lady-blog is fucking great.

  7. “secretly wanna be a screenwriter.” cringe.

  8. Pingback: Two-Year Anniversary Week! day three. | lali adverts

  9. Hagan

    EVeryone knows that it’s easier to comment than to create.

    Oh…wait…I just created this….um…fuck.


    Whatever. Just keep at it girls. Screw the haters.

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