Keith Reinhard's 'Any Wednesday' Memos Live on in Book

Notes from DDB's Chairman Emeritus Were Legendary in Agency

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Keith Reinhard
Keith Reinhard

IN 1980, when DDB Worldwide Chairman Emeritus Keith Reinhard was CEO at Needham Harper Worldwide, he found himself contemplating the network's growth and the affect that it would have on the agency. "We believed that culture was so important, but how do you keep that alive when you can't physically be in 86 countries? The people have to feel that they're in touch with management and leadership."

His solution to that problem? A fax.

Well, not just any old fax, but a very special one from Mr. Reinhard himself. He decided that every week he'd send an inspirational note to his team around the world. "This was way before email, but how could we create that feeling that everyone was part of something bigger?" he said. He wrote each on ruled paper, turned sideways -- a gentle design reminder that "rules are to be broken, rules are prisons," he said. He titled each memo "Any Wednesday," after the 1964 Broadway play, but also "because that would allow me to write 'any' Wednesday. Then I soon discovered if I didn't do it 'every' Wednesday, I wouldn't do it at all."

Interactive communication
The notes spanned a range of themes -- many were inspirational anecdotes -- like Bill Berbach's original hiring requirements to "be talented and be nice." Others were specific to a time, a person, or a new account. One of Mr. Reinhard's favorites is "one I stole from Duke Ellington, the idea that we should all be in a state of becoming. I think it's a quality that should be nurtured and cherished—that we have never arrived."

The notes became popular, and as Mr. Reinhard traveled the world he'd see them posted on agency bulletin boards -- some emblazoned with other's opinions. "It was an early form of interactive communications," he laughed.

Bold design
Mr. Reinhard stopped publishing the memos in 2003. "I was no longer leading the company, and I thought it should be very clear who was in charge" -- at that time, Ken Kaess. Nevertheless, his lessons lived on, and Mr. Reinhard compiled them informally in flimsy pamphlets he'd distribute during presentations at ad schools.

Today, however, "Any Wednesday" has been preserved for posterity in the form of a book, enhanced with a bold new design direction courtesy of DDB New York's head of art, Juan Carlos Pagan, also co-designer of the Pinterest logo and partner at design firm Pagan & Sharp. The book features a simple palette of blue, black and white. "We didn't want to lean too much on the DDB yellow," said Mr. Pagan. "Any agency can adopt these colors."

Throughout, pages feature the horizontal ruling of Mr. Reinhard's original memos. Mr. Pagan also chose to feature virtually no illustrations and let Mr. Reinhard's lessons be the star. Mr. Reinhard and Mr. Pagan were in creative accord throughout most of the book's development -- with the exception of page 255. It's a memo about a scribble Mr. Reinhard would draw to remind himself that setbacks are merely part of an "ever-rising" roller coaster, an impetus to rise higher. Design purist Mr. Pagan didn't want to include the "loopy vision" doodle, but in the end, Mr. Reinhard decided to break that rule.

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