It all started very innocently. My wife, Carla Emil, and I were in the car. She mentioned that she had been thinking about FDR’s New Deal and had actually thought of something that might help our country get back on its feet. She asked, “What if we asked every business, large and small, to create one new job? And what if we called it ‘One Job for America’?” “You came up with that? It’s brilliant,” I told her. “Why don’t we work on it together?” We’ve been married for nearly 23 years, and that’s not something we have ever done before.
One Job for America has a very simple ring to it. Like many great ideas, it’s easy and straightforward on its face, but has the possibility of being staggeringly profound in aggregate. So Carla wrote a blog that found its way to the Huffington Post, and I designed a Website.
I love the iconography of this country. Working with Mark Rurka and Caio Lazzuri, designers in my office, I developed a job flag as the main design element of the site. For the typeface, we decided that the word “Job” should be a strong san serif, and that “America” should be an elegant serif?"a yin-yang combination that somehow comes out populist.
The graphic design that I admire most is simple to the point of being almost corny, but at the same time brilliant. Two of the greatest examples are “I Heart New York” by Milton Glaser and “Live Strong” from Nike, a play on “Armstrong” for Lance’s charity. Graphic simplicity. That’s why the smiley face caught on. We inherently connect to simple, powerful symbols that seep into the imagination.
We launched OneJobforAmerica.org less than two weeks ago with the blog on the Huffington Post and an appearance by Carla and me on “The Dylan Ratigan Show” on MSNBC, which had already started “Steel on Wheels,” a job-creation segment that dovetailed perfectly with One Job for America.
I know that unemployment and job creation are complicated issues, and it’s much easier to come up with reasons why this won’t work than why it will. Unfortunately, the country has fallen into a temperamental fistfight, and by now we’re more used to pummeling each other and blaming each other than actually moving together on a simple idea.
It takes a leap of faith, yes. My wife likes to call it “Capraesque.” That’s a concept based on the quintessentially American, Depression-era movies of director Frank Capra. He was an immigrant who lived the American dream, and his movies?"such as “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Meet John Doe” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”?"all convey a nutty kind of optimism. Each beautiful movie was fueled by Capra’s absolute belief in the idea that one person can make a difference.
Indeed, it appears that we already have. I profoundly want to thank the advertising agencies that have already stepped up: DDB Worldwide, Eleven Inc., Heat, M&C Saatchi, the Martin Agency, Ted Perez+Associates, Tribal DDB and Wieden+Kennedy. It was very emotional for me to see those companies on the list.
For those of us fortunate enough to still work in advertising and such related industries as design, production, public relations and communications, as well as for our clients who are reading this article, why not join us and be the leaders of this movement? It’s an idea that allows us to be responsible citizens, and it gives us hope that we can participate in making this world a better one. Hope seeps into the collective imagination. And we can make a difference, one job at a time.
Pledge today at OneJobforAmerica.org. Carla and I thank you in advance.
Rich Silverstein is co-chairman and creative director of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.