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Who's in the Video
George Lois is a pioneering advertising executive and designer best known for a series of covers he created for Esquire magazine between 1962 and 1972 (some of which were featured[…]

The most thrilling thing as a designer is making something that becomes a cultural phenomenon and impacts people.

Question:  What’s the most satisfying part of rncreating a great design?

George Lois:
So when you say rnwhat excites me most in advertising here was when I took something and rnmade it, made it a giant part of the culture.  And that was the most rnthrilling, you know?  Of the things I worked on and I've done a couple rnof dozen like that.  The Esquire covers, when I was most excited about rnwas, you know, was the anti-war stuff, you know?  Stuff that woke up rnAmerica, helped wake up America.  And woke up people to the greatness ofrn Mohammad Ali.  Because when I did that cover of Mohammad Ali at St. rnSebastian, he was, he was, I mean, if there was a poll on it, 80% of thern country, white and black, were against him.  And that cover, in and of rnitself, helped change America's attitude about the war, and directly, rndirectly helped change Martin Luther King from saying, all of a sudden, rnyou know, all his, all the black leaders, that he would keep out of rntalking against the Vietnam War because he didn't want to piss off rnJohnson—because Johnson was a, you know, a real pioneer in helping forgern civil rights laws.  But the second he came out against, defending rnMuhammad Ali and against the war, he was in deep shit with Johnson.

So,rn I mean, I'm proud of a lot of things I've done that helped change the rnculture.  You know, I mean, that's the stuff that you really remember.

rn If you were a young designer starting out, what would you do today?

Georgern Lois: I say that I would do a magazine, you know, but I probably rnwould start an ad agency and show everybody how it's done, you know?  rnThere was an article that I just read the other day, what's funny is yourn read 30 magazines, you can't remember where you read it, you know?  In rnthe old days if you read something in Esquire, what Esquire, one of my rncovers, you remembered where you saw it, but that's beside the point.  rnBut there was an article about the head of the third largest agency in rnthe world, Publicis, I guess, you know, Maurice Levy, and the questions rnwith answers, it goes on and on and all he talks about is technology.  Irn mean, he said not one fucking word talking about his ad agency that rnmentions creativity.  It's like, it's like it's got nothing to do, the rnproduct's got nothing to do with what they do, you know, what they're rnabout.  It's shocking, you know?

That's the way it used to be rnwith all the ad agencies, I remember, there were agencies like Ogilvy rnand Mather... and after David Ogilvy died and they talked about him and rnthe reason they sold themselves on the fact that they were a scientific rnagency in the sense that they did this great research and I told rneverybody, you know, advertising isn't a science, it's an art!  I mean, rnscience, and to this day, most people who judge advertising in the rnworld, certainly in America, they've all got their marketing schools andrn communication schools and when they, and they've been taught that rnadvertising and marketing is a science, because how do you teach it's anrn art?  You know, I mean, what would these schools say for advertising rnand marketing is an art?  How do you teach that, you know?

So, torn this day, the way you show clients, most clients something and you sendrn in something really edgy and they'll look at it and they'll say, "Very rninteresting," and they'll hand it to somebody who's sitting next to themrn and they're a senior VP and say, "Very interesting, research it and rnfind out if I like it."  People don't talk about the creativity of rnsomething.  It's astounding, in all walks of life.  Starting with head rnof one of these giant ad agencies, you know.  But I was talking about rnOgilvy and Mather, and I remember, a woman was the head of the agency rnand she went on and on and on and on and on about the way they research,rn et cetera, et cetera, et cetera and it's about time, blah, blah, blah, rnand not one mention of creativity.  And people like Bill Bernbach, when rnhe did Doyle, Dane, Bernbach or people like me with Papert, Koenig, rnLois, and you know, Mary Wells with Wells, Rich, Greene,  that's all we rntalked about was creativity.  What the fuck else is there to talk rnabout?  That's the name of the game, it's the product, you know?  It's rnwhen you talk to a guy ... at Ford, he talks about the car.  About the rnproduct, you know?
rnRecorded April 5, 2010