7 Questions for David Guerrero
David Guerrero is Creative Chair and founder of BBDO-Guerrero in Manila. He has won numerous awards in advertising, a business founded primarily on creativity. BBDO-Guerrero is one of the top agencies in the country, and has won a slew of international and local awards. David is the author of the book The You-Have-To-Go-Through-A-Lot-of-Crap-Ideas-to Get-to-Good-Ideas book, a small book on how to bring out the big ideas in you.
1. What brought on the idea of making the crap ideas book?
This was a long and winding road (to quote The Beatles). It started with a BBDO seminar at the Cannes advertising festival with creative thinking coach Tom Monahan. He said that a good technique was to think of the worst possible idea for an ad - and then try to turn that round into a good idea. We tried it out and it worked! And then later that year I was invited to a Sri Lanka to judge an advertising award show. We were taken to an elephant orphanage by another BBDO colleague, and the main product of the orphanage was elephant dung paper. They mulch up the grass in a way that makes it perfect for the kind of handcrafted paper that you might be familiar with. Anyway I brought some back to Manila and we decided to make a book out of it called The Crap Ideas book. We later discovered that Theodore Sturgeon had a law that "90% of everything is crap" and then incorporated that into the idea.
2. Since we're on the topic of crap ideas, what is the one crap idea that you had you can't forget and still find hilarious?
You mean an idea that's so bad it's good? This book might be one of them! I never know whether I have done enough drafts to succeed but you can only do your best and keep trying. In a way the internet age means that nothing is ever final and we are always updating things. Like operating systems and software. So it's only really crap if you decide to leave it alone. And perhaps in those cases it's better to just to bury those ideas. And move on. Just like something that is 'no longer supported.' One thing is for sure: you can't get to anything good without going through a lot of stuff that is bad. And that's OK!
3. Your campaigns and ideas have won awards... are there times you feel doubts and second guess your own ideas? How do you manage?
This happens all the time! And the only way through is to keep going. The only way to work out what you think is to write things down and the only way to write things down is to start writing even if you have no idea where you are going to go. The big and vital piece of encouragement that we all have is that we don't have to stop. We can re-write and and improve and re-write again. Eventually someone will tear the piece of paper from your hands and say: give it to me already, the client is in reception. Or the deadline will hit you or whatever. But until then you can give it everything you've got. The famous quote about Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels was: "The show doesn't go on because it's ready; it goes on because it's 11:30."
4. For people in the creative industry, there's a lot of pressure to churn out brilliant ideas all the time. How would you convince them to let go of the pressure that the industry has on their creativity to create more?
The creative industry is only really fun if you're making work that makes you happy. Or at least not embarrassed about! So it's really important to work with other people who care about that too. If you're in a company like that, you're lucky. And if you're not, start looking for a company that does care. It's not about the money early on - it's about doing the work that can build your career.
5. Your book aims to encourage creators to keep creating, regardless if the creation springs from a good or bad idea. How important do you think it is to encourage young creators today to continue with what they do when the industry has become even more competitive than it was before?
It's really important to remember you're not creating to a formula. Or working to a pattern. Creativity is that mysterious thing that surprises and delights people or at the very least makes them stop and smile. The only real competitor should be yourself. The goals that you set and the benchmarks that you think you can achieve. It's not always about comparing yourself to the best in the world. But the best that you can realistically do in the time and space available.
6. As you’ve mentioned in the book, “the more crap you do the better you get." Can you tell us about your own creative process as to how you arrive at ideas and creative projects?
Sometimes ideas come right away and then it's a question of defining and refining them. What you find is that the first idea is only a guide to where you can look. And then you need to spend enough time on working out exactly what form that idea is going to take. The finest details really matter. They are part of the idea too. Remember - no one is going to see the way you got there, they will only see the final result.
7. And when your ideas don't work out, how do you deal with rejections and failures?
Well rejections and failures come all the time so you have to bounce back quickly. Remember that you are not your idea. And you can detach yourself from a problem and come back and examine it objectively. Always look at creative development as an opportunity to refine and improve and understand. Don't get so entrenched in a position that you become unable to adapt as your knowledge of the situation increases. On the other hand, if you are really convinced that something is great, then keep working on ways to persuade people to agree with you.