When you’re looking to start a blog post on arguably one of the greatest creatives of all-time, writing an opening that does them justice is a somewhat tall order.
Thankfully, when searching for an apt way to sum up Dave Abbott, The Independent newspaper had already achieved that task, saying: “Whatever you think of advertising, David Abbott was a genius.”
And, as one of the co-founders of ad agency, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s, Abbott’s genius was no more evident than with his seminal work for The Economist.
A relatively small publication back then, The Economist approached Abbott in 1984, wanting a series of ads that would help them achieve their lofty ambitions. It’s scary to think that the ads nearly never happened in the first place: a reluctant Abbott had to be talked into doing them, initially.
A red background, simple font and witty headline later, however, and the rest, as they say, was history.
— Outsmart (@OutsmartOOH) June 23, 2016
As a singular ad, it’s hard to think of another piece of work that has so effectively launched a brand to fame as this one. Likewise, it’s hard to think of a standalone ad that has so effectively positioned a brand to its intended target audience.
The real beauty of this ad, however, is the way it so seamlessly provided The Economist with a blueprint (or should that be redprint?) for all their future ads; the only thing that ever needed changing being the copy.
And, as The Economist so beautifully put it in their tribute to Abbott in 2014: “The campaign was hugely successful. Thanks, from a grateful client.”
Which is why it’s little wonder that this ad’s being talked about by advertising agencies such as ours, some 34 years later. And why, no doubt, we’ll still be talking about it in another 34 years’ time.