Directors to Watch 2008: Harold Einstein

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Harold Einstein
Harold Einstein
"I've been to more agencies than most people," says Harold Einstein. "Not everyone should do it that way, but it was good for me." As the son of longtime Dailey & Associates creative director Cliff Einstein, Harold literally grew up around the ad business before building a career as a copywriter that included stops at DDB/Chicago, Cliff Freeman, Wieden + Kennedy, and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. ("I had a very blessed career as a writer," he says, somewhat bashfully.) At Goodby, Einstein met Gerry Graf, which sparked a fruitful series of collaborations as the rising creative director tapped Einstein as a freelance writer on projects for FedEx, Guinness, Sprint, and Absolut, among others.

Most recently, Einstein and Graf collaborated—this time as director and creative director—on the Gold Lion-winning "You Can Say Anything With a Smile" campaign for Crest. The spots—out of Saatchi & Saatchi/New York, where Graf is now CCO—are pitch perfect examples of the kind of dialogue-driven comedy Einstein has specialized in throughout his career. "What I'm trying to do is direct what I liked to write in advertising, and this is what I liked to write. I loved writing for actors. I loved putting words in their mouths." In "Bulldozer," arguably the best of the Crest spots, a cheerful construction worker unflinchingly explains to a group of disappointed children that he's about to destroy their playground.

"I kind of feel like maybe everything I've been doing through advertising up until now was just warm-up," Einstein says. "It was just preparing me to do this because all the things that I love found a way to come together with directing." Not that he would have done things differently. "It's helpful that I have an advertising background, because more than most people I do understand what it's like to face a blank page. I feel like I have responsibility to protect the people who are thinking of those ideas. I like that. I feel like that's a nice thing to bring to a project."

Read about Woof Wan-Bau, another of our 2008 Directors to Watch.

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