Presented at the Eastan Annual Conference
American Association of Advertising Agencies
Copy & Art Section
November 14, 1962
New York City
by STEPHEN O. FRANKFURT
V. P. Executive Art Director Young & Rubicam, Inc.
Writers and artists in advertising are, in many
ways, like writers and artists in non-commercial
endeavors. They produce on different.levels. A play
can be superficial; a musical score can be imitative;
a painting cali be without depth. Or they can come
from the gut, from deep inside, drawing on the total
accumulated resources and sensitivities of the guy
doing the work.
So it is with advertising people. All of us, at times,
have had to "knock out a headline", or "rough out
a quick layout". The results of this type of activity
are usually superficial or imitative. A good craftsman
may be able to beat the clock, but what he turns
out fast, without having had any time to think
about it, will frequently be only'· craftslnanlikeand
rarely inspired. . . '
I see it as a four-phase process, and sometimes two
or more phases are going on at the same time. I
must add that this four-phase process I'm about to
describe has, as far as I know, absolutely no scientific
evidence to back it up, and I cannot prove a
word of what I'm going to say. So let's say that my
analysis of problem-solving is more a Frankfurttheory,
than a fact. You might call it, "The 4-Phases
The first phase might be referred to as the
INGESTION PHASE. "Ingestion", the dictionary
tells us, is "The process of putting in or taking in,
for the purpose of digestion."
I refer to the ingestion of all the learning and experience
that is part of living. It started the day you
were born, and has been going on ever since.
The degree to which you ingest experience and
information depends upon how shallow or broad a
pe'rson you are; and how alert you remain to the constant
stream of stimuli fighting around you to be absorbed.
We alllcnow people who listen and don't hear; who
look and don't see; who experience and don't learn.
What they ingest for future use is limited; and, in
my opinion, poor creative work is often the result of
limit experience or a narrowness in perceiving
This brings us back to such questions as, "Does
your private life influence your ideas?" and "Do you
turn off the agency when you go home at night?"
My ideas come from my private life. And also from
my business life. Everything I do and feel and hear
and think (and that includes vacation time and weekends)
is absorbed to become a part of the unconscious
reservoir. And it is this reservoir that is tapped
constantly in problem solving:
As a matter of fact, the ideas for several of the
commercials you just saw, came from past experience
The opening of the Band-Aid, came from an everyday experience; something familiar to all of us.
We've all gone through the simple process of pulling
the string on a Band-Aid and hearing the sound of
paper ripping. Also hearing the box close is an old
experience. All I did there was transfer to film and
sound, these recognizable experiences. And I hope
that it achieved what I had in mind: to get the audi.
ence to become involved in the experiences because
of their simple familiarity and believability.
The Sanforized commercial came to me one day
after I already had the assignment to do the commercial.
I was walking up Fifth Avenue and I saw
a woman with one of those silly little, tiny little
dogs. "My God!" I thought, "That dog has shrunk!"
And maybe because on some less-than-conscious
level I was seeking a solution to my Sanforized
assignment, the word "shrunk" made contact with
the problem, and I began to see the commercial
take form in my mind.
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