Ian Darby: Tony Scott's maverick style should not be lost

By Ian Darby, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 23 August 2012 08:00AM

The experience of working with the director Tony Scott, who died this week, was said to be "like a glorious road trip to Vegas on desert back-roads".

Ian Darby: Tony Scott's maverick style should not be lost

Scott will be remembered for his Hollywood films but also, among a certain generation of ad people, for a fine body of commercials directed through RSA Films, the company his brother Ridley launched in the late 60s. As with his feature films, these were often sumptuously shot, visceral, high-octane affairs. Highlights included the 2000 Barclays "big" TV ad featuring Sir Anthony Hopkins.

It was advertising, which Scott once described as "a blast", that propelled him to Hollywood. His 1985 Saab commercial that featured a military jet caught the attention of the "high concept" producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, and he was hired to direct Top Gun and a string of other action films.

Scott returned occasionally to direct ads but had, essentially, moved on. Advertising was something that he never set out to do, but it was to the benefit of the business, as well as to Scott, that he chose to work on commercials that Ridley promised would allow him to "buy a Ferrari within a year".

We can only hope that modern-day mavericks are similarly enticed. David Harris, Wunderman's creative chief, pens a letter in this week's issue that celebrates the gallery of characters "who 'ended up' in advertising on their way to something else". He also expresses concern that the business is now homogenised and excludes "ideas" people.

Advertising is, perhaps by necessity, populated by acolytes and functionaries alongside inspirational people with their own strain of innovation. Yet even the most brow-beaten manager should take time to surround their business with a melting pot of stimulating individuals.

These catalysts could be directors, musicians, animators, illustrators, writers and artists, but are just as likely to be technology builders, entrepreneurs and coders as the new generation of talent gravitates towards tech bunkers in Palo Alto or Asia, as well as Hollywood.

Strong agencies instinctively create a two-way flow of conversation with such talent and are wary of taking advice from management consultants, who Stephen Bayley and Roger Mavity assert in our "Life's A Pitch" feature on page 28 "have got it 180 degrees wrong".

Agency and creative leaders should find time to hang out with the people who are there to have a blast. Advertising needs individuals driven by the ideas, the fun, the cars, or whatever else they can get out of it, before they speed off to the next challenge. Iceman's words to Maverick in Top Gun, "I don't like you because you're dangerous", should serve as a warning to modern ad executives. Not to avoid rogue individuals but to embrace them.

Claire Beale is away.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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