Lincoln advertising executive trades in ideas, creativity
By Elise Genaidy
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
David Moore can remember a time when an idea had more value than the ticking of a clock.
Moore, a veteran in the advertising industry with 31 years of experience, has seen the clichéd term “a penny for your thoughts” become commercialized.
“The business has changed so much since I started out,” said Moore, executive creative director at Thought District, a Lincoln based advertising agency. “Now it’s how fast you can do something. It’s what’s the best idea you can come up with in the next 15 minutes rather than what’s the best idea you can come up with.”
Known within the industry as a creative, Moore trades in his ideas. The words, images and feelings he associates with a product or service are the difference between winning a new account and losing the account to someone else. As technology improves design efficiency, creatives like Moore are expected to keep pace and churn out ideas with a matched velocity.
“In our business most ad agencies are paid by the hour, which means we have to track our time,” Moore said. “That’s the antithesis of how we think and live. It’s demeaning to the work that we do. How long does it take you to have a great idea? If it’s 10 minutes and it brings a million dollars to a client is that worth only 10 minutes of work? Or if it’s a whole month and you lose the client money is that still worth a month?”
As executive creative director, it’s Moore’s job to find the idea worth a million dollars, whether it takes 10 minutes or a month.
“I give a lot of guidance and feedback to the team that works for me,” Moore said. “I help find the best in their ideas and help them focus their ideas to make sure they are on strategy. They’ll bring me five to 15 ideas and I’ll find the best one in it. I try not to do the work for them, but give them the guidance they need to make their own work.”
To find the best one, Moore firmly believes that the most important skill to have in an advertising agency is resilience.
“You have to have the ability to keep coming back after people tell you no,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you are stubborn. If the client is stupid 1o times, you have to come back 11 times. You cannot allow the client to make you do bad work.”
Part of not doing bad work is being willing to step away from an idea and considering what the client, your boss or your work is saying.
“I can’t quite remember who, one of the big advertising names like Leo Burnett or someone, carried around a slip of paper in his pocket that said ‘they might be right,’” Moore said. “Think about that. They might be right. Doesn’t mean you have to listen to them and automatically do what they say; you just have to sit back and think about it. Be willing to consider things. That’s our business.”