John Lennon and Relevant Advertising

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BART CLEVELAND: Recently a reporter asked me how we in advertising come up with those wonderful ideas that become part of the fabric of society. I told him I had no idea since I’ve never done that. Well, I didn’t say that exactly. I pretended I was attached by the hip to those who have changed our world with things like “got milk?” and waxed poetic about that magic moment when you come up with something so brilliant the world will never be same. I’m being facetious. What I really said was that I don’t think anyone plans on changing the world through an ad, but on that rare occasion an ad becomes more important to the world than the product it’s hawking. One thing always someone was trying to do more than advertising. It’s a planned accident of sorts.

Several years ago I heard Sir George Martin give a talk about the making of the Beatle's album Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. As the legendary record producer took us through each song's birth the emotional connection Martin had with four young lads from Liverpool was inspiring. During the final minutes of his oration, Martin paid special tribute to John Lennon. He had given each of the Beatles accolades but there was obviously a special connection between he and Lennon. Perhaps it was the purity of Lennon’s desire to communicate as an artist versus an entertainer that meant so much to Martin. A soft instrumental rendition of Lennon's "Imagine" began playing as Martin’s deep baritone voice filled the room with his tribute. I looked around and saw people dabbing tears. Martin's incredible tale of a magical time in five men's lives had deeply touched us. The audience remained silent for a long moment at the end before a sudden thunderous applause erupted with every person rising to their feet.

I realized that I would never be the same. I don’t think Martin realized what he had done to me any more than the Beatle’s realized what they were ultimately doing to the world. It should be no different in our efforts to create advertising. We just have to always be striving for greatness.
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