Creativity in business has to earn its keep.  Embalming a 12-foot shark in a glass mausoleum, or hand-painting exactly one million colorful dots on a single canvas are audaciously creative ideas; but they are unbounded by the need to persuade people to do any particular thing.  The challenge is purposeful creativity – squeezing out the insights and producing the right answer; one that is compelling and original.  I love it when the idea is profoundly simple  ̶  when its rough edges have a bit of sawdust, and not the blurred pixels of imperfectly rendered CGI.  When the secret to the magic trick comes from a simple insight into an audience’s natural tendencies.

I’m in the business of coming up with creative ideas that grow businesses.  The guy who produced the shark and the dots currently has a retrospective show at the Tate
Modern on the south bank of the Thames. I’d give my right {just about any body part} for that, but as a marketing and brand strategy guy I’m happy for now to measure success in share points and pageviews (while simultaneously working on my own equivalents of the shark and the dots).

Some things about me:

  • I was advertising’s first American account planner.
  • I have a framed carbon copy of a memo written by the creative chief who inspired the character of Don Draper. He literally wrote the book on creative strategy, or strategic creativity, depending on which side of the table you’re sitting during the
  • I cut my teeth as the strategy guy on some of the most successful new brands.
  • I’m an insightful marketing researcher.  The head of SRI recently said to me, “Holly sh*t, with your experience you know more about VALS than we do!”
  • I think a meeting is at least a partial success if you land two really good one-liners.
  • The highlight of my career was a marketing stunt that generated 7 billion media impressions.
  • I believe that when it comes to genuinely brilliant people you should just ignore the awkward bits.
  • When I’m not working {for money} I’m writing books, or fooling around with the Adobe Creative Suite, or slicing through steel with a plasma cutter (it’s really fun if you don’t slice through the work table or set your pants on fire  ̶  I’ve done both).
  • Perhaps the most creative thing I ever did was come up with the perfect gift for the guy who literally has everything.  He misplaced it for a moment in his mansion
    and had 10 people searching for it.
  • I’m always covered in either sawdust or dog hair, or both.
  • Life is a lot more interesting when you populate it with interesting people, and I think that’s about the highest compliment you can receive.


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If you are a fellow Jay Dean, here.