Monday, August 31, 2015

Matt Eastwood's Jacket

Matt Eastwood, worldwide chief creative officer of JWT, has one of the world's biggest creative jobs, and has to be considered one of Australia's global creative leaders not just in advertising, but in any field.

Is it partly due to the way he dresses?

Now don't get me wrong, Mr Eastwood has overseen a ton of great work. A TON. Examples: “Yeah, that kind of rich” for the New York Lottery, and the “Hashtag Killer” campaign for WATERisLIFE.

I really enjoyed this recent podcast in which Eastwood discusses topics as varied as leadership behaviour, and how JWT invented the grilled cheese sandwich.

He's impressive throughout - a solid combo of charm, insight and dedication.

But because I'm extraordinarily superficial, there was one section in particular that really struck me. It was a part where he described his days as a young creative, and how on deciding that he wanted to become a Creative Director, he changed the way he dressed. He smartened up, and started to wear a jacket.

At first his fellow creatives ribbed him a bit, but after a while they accepted it... and so did the senior Suits, and Clients.

Shortly afterwards, he was promoted to Creative Director.

Now, I expect I'll get heat for this. Some of the most rabid comments I've ever had on this blog were not triggered by frenzied debates over controversial pieces of work, but came when I dared to suggest that what you wear makes a difference to how you are perceived. 

I guess Creatives are hardcore and want to think "it's all about the work." That's a praiseworthy belief to hold, but there is plenty of evidence showing that your appearance matters too.

So... are you wearing a jacket?

And please note, I mean this as much metaphorically as literally. In other words, I'm suggesting you ask yourself: are you solely focused on coming up with great ideas, or are you also making smart choices about how you progress your career?


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, you're right.
Ppl judge books by covers.
Sure, it should solely be about the work, even if you're naked and 90.
But you've gotta look like you're clever - it just it easier for others to decide what you're about.

Daniel Barnes said...

Also, too, the well-known As If principle.

Muntz said...

Everyday in every way i try to look more and more like this guy
but most of the time i don't even need to try.

Anonymous said...

Any person who thinks it's just about the work is very naive. As advertisers, of all people, they should know that perception can override fact.

Anonymous said...

Alright I wanna talk to you guys about appearance... okay?

Scamp said...

@Muntz Hahah. I'd opine that Bob Greenberg's appearance (including clothes) is working very well for him, in terms of what it communicates. I reckon it says 'wizard'.

Anonymous said...

I do, and while im no CD ( yet ) , it work. A jacket even with ( nice ) sneakers make a whole difference with clients, suits and ....your ECD/MD.

lubomir said...

Last year we’ve lost the biggest pitch on the market. We were stunned that our solid, expensive presentation (research paid by the agency, cool designs, videos etc) was defeated by a little shitty agency.

Our team was “dressed for success”. As creative I don’t wear a jacket BUT I was in a smart sweater, and a tie color matched with “the corporate scheme” …

A few months after that I’ve managed to speak with a person from the client’s side.

It turns out that after the presentations nobody on the client’s side talked about the merit / content of the presentations. They talked about our looks. That’s it!

They thought I was an excellent presenter but a little bit “tight, intellectual, and sterile” – while the CD of the winning agency was “colorful”, “with a beard” and “ear-rings”… “just different”… “we thought he looked cooler, he looked… MORE CREATIVE” …

Unfortunately there is nothing “extraordinarily superficial” - we are animals. Appearance rules

Scamp said...

Ouch, Lubomir. I feel for you, man. I think it could have been the matching tie...

lubomir said...

"A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life." —I guess female brand managers are not fans of Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde :)

Mouse said...

Feeling for Lubomir. I don't wear a jacket but was sporting the Steve Jobs (black t-shirt and smart jeans). It was a tricky meeting. I was later told by the clients that their big cheese was wary as I didn't have visible tattoos or a nose ring!

Anonymous said...

I've been a 'creative' for a very long time and your article solved what has been a continuing mystery for me.

Many people have said over the years 'why don't you become a creative director?'

And I've always replied 'why would you?'. The thrill of being in creative is thinking of an idea. Sure the money drugs and babes are cool too, but creating ideas is what defines 'creatives'.

The moment you become a 'creative director' is the moment you stop being creative.

You become an inspirer. A seller. A buffer.

In other words you become a suit. And this was obviously Matt's goal.

I don't mean that as a pejorative. Great suits are as valuable as great creatives, often more so.

If work doesn't get sold it may as well not have been conceived.

But it always bugs me when those who have chosen to don the literal or metaphorical suit continue to pretend they are still part of the creative department, or creative brotherhood.

They are not.

When you stop doing ideas yourself, you stop being a creator.

Worldwide CDs like Matt are the epitome of this. He doesn't create anything himself. He doesn't even see any work before it goes to clients let alone influence it.

He travels the world raising the profile of the network by chairing awards, then he chairs meetings of selected ECDs where everyone agrees to be much better, then he sacks some ECDs who didn't get much better even though their clients won't allow it.

This is not being creative. It's being a suit.

If the role of worldwide creative director actually involved being the most creative person in the network, wouldn't you expect such a demi-god to actually think of stuff when there's a world-wide pitch?

Why hire someone who used to think of things, to not think of things?

It's silly.

I hope Matt reads this. Because I now know how he became a CD, I just don't know why.

Old CD Guy said...

I knew Matt long before he became a Creative Director, let alone a Worldwide Creative Director. He was just a smart, young, skinny guy who did nice ads. I tried being a Creative Director, but wasn't any good at it. I guess I'm just a copywriter. Being a creative suit or worse, a Manager was never in my DNA. I admire people who can make the quantum leap from writer or art director to management. I used to watch creative directors in action, standing in front of the entire agency as a propagandist and and praising mediocre work. I could never have done that. I quit the business a decade ago. Now I couldn't even bear to work in an agency.

That guy said...

@Old CD Guy,

Sometimes – correction – often, there is a big discrepancy between a great manager and a great Creative Director. If you get both in the same dude, stick with him for many years.

However for most CDs, if the suit fits, wear it. I prefer the difficult ones whose quirks you need to work out.

Stanley Johnson said...

For a great insights into Matt, his career focus and the working life of a global CD, checkout this podcast. It's a great listen. Some good tips for the kids too!

Scamp said...

Yup, that's the one I meant, in the article. I enjoyed it.

Stanley Johnson said...

Yep. Sorry Scamp old chap. Just realised that. Doh!

Anonymous said...

I decided to start dressing 'smarter' than the rest of my department are just a few weeks as a junior.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

And, I was group head by 28, CD by 31 of a good agency too.

I don't think I was more talented, just more focussed for sure.

Scamp said...

One 's' in 'focused', buddy.

Alf said...

Clothes maketh the man.
But sooner than "what you wear makes a difference to how you are perceived" the real insight for me here is "what you wear makes a difference to how you perceive yourself".