Advertising Lessons from OK Go

This is the new video from OK Go.

What does this have to do with advertising? Plenty.

In this post, I talk about how you need to have something surprising in your portfolio. These guys are always working to surprise.

In this post, I talk about the virtues of being a control freak when it comes to producing great work. You couldn’t pull off a video like this without being a control freak. Or putting one in charge.

And in this article, AdAge points out that they’re not just a band. They’ve become a brand. And probably a stronger one than some traditional companies.

Control Freaks, Part 2

A few posts ago, I wrote about the virtues of being a control freak (a humble, respectful control freak, that is).

You’ve probably seen the new OK Go video “This Too Shall Pass.” If not, take a look. You’ll enjoy it.

Be sure to check out the four-part making-of video featured below. Damian Kulash is definitely a control freak. I’m betting in a good way.

Kulash did everything from write the two paragraph synopsis to buy trophies at the flea market. He could have handed the idea over to the Syyn Labs people, who obviously knew more about the process. Instead, he got all control freaky.
So why is he a control freak in a good way? Well, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. But the clue for me is that he’s collaborating. He seems willing to learn. He’s surrounding himself by really smart people and listening to their ideas. Plus his dad seems proud of him.
Take ownership of your ideas. Immerse yourself in the details. Be respectful and open-minded. Listen, but take responsibility. I think you’ve got to be a control freak on hand to pull off something of this magnitude, whether it’s a music video, a double-page spread, a :30 spot or an iPhone app.

Control Freaks

Years ago, as a student at the VCU Adcenter, I remember Jelly Helm admitting to our class that he was a little bit of a control freak. He said that if you asked the rest of the faculty, you’d find most of them were control freaks, too.

But the thing that’s really stuck with me, is that Jelly believed that having control-freak tendencies was probably a big contribution to his success.
“Control freak” has negative connotations. Who wants to work for a tyrant and an ego-maniac, right? The thing is, I don’t think Jelly is a tyrant or an ego-maniac. He just really cares about his work. He doesn’t stop at “good enough.”
Embrace your inner-control freak. Nourish it. You can be a control freak and still be nice and humble and respectful and open to other opinions.
But if you’re an art director, have an opinion about the copy your partner’s writing. If you’re a writer, weigh in on your partner’s layout and typeface. It’s you’re ad, too. Because when you show your book around and have to explain, “Yeah, my partner wanted it this way, but I didn’t really agree,” what you’re really saying is, “I put this in my book, but I don’t like it, so there’s really no reason you should either.”