Vision Quest

How I spent my first week as the new Chief Creative Officer of McCann/New York. (Written on a Blackberry at 3 a.m. in New York Hospital.)

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Joyce King Thomas
Woke up Monday after announcement wondering about best way to articulate my "creative vision" (press was asking for it.) Read story about my new job in ad magazine. Decided I hated my smiling publicity picture. Picked more serious publicity picture. Received call saying my eyes looked "funny" in serious picture. Decided smiling picture was fine. Really. Looked at work from teams. Saw ideas I hated. Worried I was being too hard on work. Saw ideas I loved. Worried I was being too easy on work. Flew to Boston to see clients. Drove to Westchester to see clients. Walked down hall to see clients.

Wondered how to articulate creative vision. Made list of biggest creative opportunities in agency. Made list of biggest creative obstacles in agency. Looked at rough shooting boards, rough cuts, rough scripts, rough strategies. Tried to stay calm under fire. Tried to stay calm under desk.

Drank too much red wine in celebration with MasterCard account group. Brought killer headache to early morning post mortem of new-business pitch. Wondered how to articulate my vision. Wondered how to spell "articulate." Attended budget meeting with head of North America. Wished I had brought a calculator equipped to do advanced calculus. Wished I could use a calculator equipped to do advanced calculus.

Briefed eight teams on big "opportunity." Interviewed four people. Hired one person. Told one person in group he might not cut it. Met with office services on major moves within creative department. Decided creative people care too much about the size of their offices. Daydreamed about the size of my new office.

Looked at ads on AdCritic. Wished I'd written the Honda U.K. ad with flying engines. Gave suggestions on MasterCard work from Australia, Japan and Dubai. Tried not to act like ugly American. Watched Jon Stewart. Got flowers. Realized girl can never get too many flowers. Realized office can look like mausoleum with too many flowers. Arrived home from long day to find 14-year-old son in midst of appendicitis attack. Drove like madwoman to New York Hospital. Watched son repeat symptoms to 14 interns in a row. Screamed at hospital staff for leaving son at risk of rupture for so long. Considered threatening to call my lawyer. Realized I didn't have a lawyer. In most creative move of week, decided to say I was a lawyer. Surgery scheduled.

While waiting for son's surgery, had idea for this piece. Realized only a horrible person would come up with idea for ad pub piece while son awaited surgery. Sought to repair karma by wiping up son's vomit from floor and sleeping in reclining chair by his bed for three nights straight. Woke up thinking I might be uniquely qualified to handle La-Z-Boy account.

Wondered how to articulate my vision. Read hospital vision statement for inspiration. Found none in lines like "Practice fiscal discipline and efficient management and maximize revenues from our core services." Dozed off in reclining chair thinking that the vision thing may be like son's appendix: OK if it doesn't get in the way, but not really necessary to move forward. Dreamed about reclining on the beach in Cannes. In a La-Z-boy. Lions stretched alongside me.

(Joyce King Thomas is Executive VP-Chief Creative Officer at McCann-Erickson/New York. This article appears in the November 2004 issue of Creativity).
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