20 things that have blown my mind in my 20 years in advertising.

I first got into advertising in 1992 after two years of painfully trying and failing to do so. I just knew advertising was for me, even if everyone else seemed a tad unconvinced.

I have seen a ton of change in my career. But i also seen a ton of change in every other aspect of my life too. My life has been change.

So maybe nothing fazes me at this point.

But i have been very lucky enough to have seen and experienced a lot of very fun things. Some things that very few people get to see and experience.

I have been very lucky. Here are 20 awesome things that happened to me in advertising.

1. In my first job I was hired by the all time best copywriter of all time, Mr. Edward A. McCabe.
2. The total cost of the two very first TV spots I produced was touching two million dollars. Not my fault I hasten to add. This was 1990s money too!
3. I worked for Hal Riney briefly. Principally this involved being the only one at the agency who wasn’t scared of interacting with Hal Riney. Hal was usually the VO of the brands his agency worked on. Best scam ever! So I would help Hal record the spots. Hal loved whiskey. Hal was Irish. This could cause problems.
4. I worked on the Superbowl for Budweiser and Bud Light for years. Budweiser always had the very first spot in the game itself. This is called the “1A” spot. The most expensive spot in the game. Maximum excitement, maximum audience. And my spot had it. I was like the beer ad quarterback of the superbowl. Lots of pressure!
5. The very first beer spot i wrote was voted best beer commercial of the year by Ad Age magazine. I loved that. I knew I was good at beer advertising, this confirmed it.
6. We at The Escape POd did a branded content TV show for client OfficeMax that was great viewing and, best of all, McDonalds paid to appear within our ad. That kind of blew my mind.
7. I co-wrote a Budweiser commercial for Dale Earnhardt Jr. with his dad NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. Dale Sr. came up with the ending – one car hitting another – when he saw my script just before his death. He fatally hit the wall at Daytona and I assumed his son wouldn’t be in any mood to shoot the spot. I was wrong. We shot it just months later.
8. Design. It took me ages to realize how crucial great design is in general, all the time.
9. Meeting David Abbot. I saw him give a speech at a Bnai Brith fundraiser for,namedrop alert, Bob Levenson.
I also met, namedrop alert, Helmut Krone that night. Did I mention that we were seated at Dave Abbot and his lovely wife’s table too? And we all hung out together later. David Abbot may well be god btw. Just a theory.
10. Having my wildest dreams exceeded in ways I couldn’t possibly imagine. And having it go on for such a long time and all over the world. And winning every possible award on the planet. That’ll blow your mind. And it did mine. As it should.
11. The Internet. Just when we’d all gotten really good at TV commercials along comes the bloody internet. It’s where a sizeable chunk of all our attention has gone that used to be consumed by staring into space and drooling.
12.Getting drunk with Ludacris. And his girl and his bodyguard. We had a great time.
13.The amazing hotels. I come from the humble west of Ireland and some of the amazing hotels I have become accustomed to staying in are very far from that. Best pillows of all time: The Intercontinental at Cannes. Best service: the Beverly Hills Four Seasons.
14. Hollywood. I get to hang out in Hollywood and shoot film with the best directors and DPs and crews in the world.
15. I have spent 20 years doing what most people would consider having fun and not real work at all. I think up fun ideas for a living. Coal mining it ain’t.
16. We won the film Grand Prix in Cannes. We beat out the MTV Jukka Brothers campaign to do this. I was amazed. I was sure they would win.
17. I started my own advertising agency. And it is truly the best fun you have in our business. You don’t truly understand our business until you’ve seen it from practical end of things.
18. I once hugged a mountain lion. Have you? Then shut up!
19. My partners. I got lucky here.
20 Most amazing of all, I really really love doing this as much as I did 20 years ago. I love every aspect of what I do. I still have a childish energy and enthusiasm for advertising. I love the process of applying what I’ve learned to client’s problems. I love the idea of form following function. There lies the path to greatness. I just love it.

4 responses to “20 things that have blown my mind in my 20 years in advertising.

  1. The Jukka Brothers were good Vinny, but people weren’t shouting about them in the street. There was about a 3 or 4 month period where ‘Wassssuuuuuuppp’ was the ONLY way to answer your phone. You’d hear it in the street from 14 year old girls to 50 year old men. Hell – I still do it from time to time. And it was used to get Obama into office. Yep – the Jukka Brothers were good, but they weren’t Wassup!
    Ass kissing over.

    • Thanks for the kind words George. I was concerned because when we got to Cannes the buzz was that it was between us and Jukka Bros. And the more i thought about it, the more I was convinced they would win. It was a more obviously international idea. even though Wassup! was popular everywhere. you know ad juries. can’t trust em!

      luckily for us the Cannes festival happened just as our campaign was peaking internationally.

  2. Just out of curiosity, what were the first two spots that added up to two mill?

    • rob, this was one of them. a two day night shoot at a rail museum in Portland using real steam trains. every take took ages. cost a bloody fortune.

      the other spot isn’t online but it was set in the Budweiser brewery in St. Louis where i had taken a brewery tour. The brewery is a gorgeous maze of 19th century wrought iron and copper kettles. The ideal brewery really. The CEO loved the fact that someone finally came up with an idea starring his lovely brewery. Unfortunately when it came time to shoot the commercial the brewery was being painted. but nobody wanted to break the news to the CEO. so we were told to build a replica of the brewery in a warehouse in LA. hang the expense! So we did and it cost a fortune as you can imagine. I’ll see if i can dig up the spot.

      So between these two spots (which were shot as a package) the final cost was $1.8 Million. hard to imagine these days.

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