Q&A: Harvey Marco, Executive Creative Director Saatchi & Saatchi/Los Angeles

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C: Overall, what do you think of the quality of work from 2004 compared to previous years, or even to what you're starting to see this year?

Marco: A runaway boob. A terrorist named Cat Stevens-four more years of church and state. Yet we made it through 2004. I could've sworn that we were going to get get spanked by the moral police; instead we ended up with some really inspiring work. Burger King's "Subservient Chicken", adidas' "Impossible Is Nothing", HP's "Invent", Honda's "Hate..." I'm surprised. I'm inspired. Overall, we've learned a lot from the world and our little industry. The work that I like is all over the place. It's poignant, it's funny, it's dark, it's dark and funny, it's simple, it's technical, it's stupid, it's smart, it's relevant. You're starting to see less imitation and more originality. People are taking chances and that goes for both the clients that flip the bill and the the creatives that come up with this stuff.

C: What was your creative highlight of 2004?

Marco: I have a lot to be thankful for and I honestly don't know where to begin, but for the most part, going on stage at Cannes for a Gold Lion [for Toyota "Girlfriend"] is something I'll never forget.

C: Could you describe your experience on this-what factors do you think contributed to the success of the spot?

Marco: I believe that the creatives wrote a script based on a great truth about guys (especially this young target) and stayed very focused on playing it real. Baker did a fantastic job collaborating and keeping the storyline contained and simple. In the end, it was Annie (the actress that played the lead ). She originally auditioned as an extra - to play one of the girls pushing the truck off the cliff, literally a bit part. Nobody else came close after her audition.

C: Did you notice any positive or interesting trends last year?

Marco: Less monkeys, fewer explosions, and a sharp decrease in folks getting hit in the balls. Music from the '80s is making a come back and I'm scared. The other night I had a nightmare, only the whole dream was in claymation and scored to an OMD song.

C: What, if any, were some of the year's missteps?

Marco: Trying not to try so hard is the hard part. I see a lot of work trying too hard to be cool, or young, or sophisticated, or whatever, and it ends up looking like poop or to quote a former boss of mine "sounding like gobbly goop." It seems like some of the stuff that missed the mark just tried too hard. I also think that some of us are getting wrapped up in CG. There's a lot of ugliness out there when it comes to CG. It can get in the way of an idea by not being appropriate, or it can suck the life out of an idea by not being done well. I also see a lot of money being thrown at ideas that don't merit a Cecil B. DeMille production. Nobody cares-unless it's all about the entertainment, and then it better be some great entertainment if you're going to stick a logo on the end of it.

C: Overall, what do you believe was the biggest obstacle to creating great advertising last year?

Marco: I think we can be our own worst enemy. At a certain point, information and process override creative intuition which leads to overthink, which leads to trying too hard-which usually results in idea death or a sudden loss of bowel control. Our access to information is a double edged sword. We can get it any time we need it. Someone else can get it any time they need it, or think we might need it. If we don't like the information we can get more, and while we're busy filling our minds with all this precious information, we're burning valuable creative time. Finally when the work comes out, it comes from everywhere but the heart. The other thing I saw a lot of last year was an industry trying too hard to re-invent the wheel. Movies, videos, televison shows, etc. Most of which never see the light of day. The short of it - what's the best solution to the problem? Might be TV. Might be print. Might be dare I say, something traditional? Sometimes it's the most apparent, sometimes it's not. More often than not, the more constraints we have, the more ingenious the thinking and the bigger the idea.

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