Paul Arden died yesterday after a long illness. As executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi during its heyday, Arden was responsible for some of the great campaigns of British advertising, including British Airways and Silk Cut. But he will also be remembered as one of the great characters of the industry.
Arden’s unconventional management style is legendary. When a piece of work failed to meet his exacting standards, it was not unknown for him to express his displeasure by jumping up and down on it. Yet the majority of those who worked with him cite his great passion and unyielding perfectionism as utterly inspirational. Even after stepping down from his full-time agency career, Arden continued to devote time to helping students and young creatives.
In 1993 Arden set up the film production company Arden Sutherland-Dodd. In his latter years, as well as opening a photography gallery, Arden and Anstruther, in Petworth, Sussex, he developed a highly successful second career as a writer. A weekly column in The Independent was followed by the publication of his first book, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, which sold over half a million copies. This was followed by two more titles, Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite in 2006 and, last year, God Explained In A Taxi Ride.
He was a true maverick, the like of which is increasingly rare in advertising today. Creative Review would like to open up this space as an online book of condolences to mark Arden’s unique contribution.
Former Saatchis creative chief Paul Arden dies
by John Tylee Campaign 03-Apr-08, 12:00
LONDON - Paul Arden, the former Saatchi & Saatchi creative chief behind some of Britain's most memorable ad campaigns, has died aged 67.
He had been ill for some time and suffered a fatal heart attack at his home in Petworth, Sussex, yesterday.
Arden spent 14 years as executive creative director at the Charlotte Street agency where he inspired memorable work for British Airways, Anchor Butter and InterCity.
His famous slogans included "The car in front is a Toyota" and "The Independent - It Is. Are You?"
In 1983 he introduced the famous Silk Cut concept in which no copyline was used, only a still-life photographic image in the brand's signature purple.
In 1993 he set up the film production company Arden Sutherland Dodd.
His first book, "It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be", a quirky combination of wit and wisdom, sold more than half a million copies.
Bill Muirhead, the former Saatchi & Saatchi chairman and a founding partner of M&C Saatchi, said: "Paul was a giant in terms of his contribution to the agency. He work was always fresh, deceptively simple and strikingly graphic."
Paul Arden moved on, creative leader succumbs to a heart attack.
Submitted by Dabitch on Thu, 04/03/2008 - 22:38.
Sad news today as Paul Arden moved to greener pastures at 67.
Mr. Arden was such a perfectionist that he was often maddeningly over budget, insisting that the smallest details be perfect, such as searching for a certain pair of wildly expensive spectacles to achieve just the right look on a face that would be seen briefly in passing in a TV spot.
Have you heard about Paul Arden not playing football because "the colour of the grass isn't the right green."Would that be true, Paul? Paul: - "I like the quote. Put it in."
He was the Saatchi perfectionist, father of the Silk Cut campaign, and in 1993 started a film production company, Arden Sutherland Dodd, as well as collecting photography. Back in 1993 I had the pleasure of being one of his pupils at the School of Communication Arts. You might never know what he was thinking but you could bet on it being brilliant. I can promise you all that we'll never see a man like Paul in advertising again, and we are all the poorer for it.
Paul Arden wrote several books in the past years, most recently Paul Arden on God,
Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite and here are some of my notes from Paul Arden's Lecture at the D&AD back in 1993, his book It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be has even been translated to Swedish.
Paul Arden, who has died aged 67, was the former executive creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi and worked on some of Britain's most memorable advertising campaigns.
Arden's career coincided with a period in which the advertising industry was beginning to place less emphasis on copy in favour of art direction; and, with Charles Saatchi, he created a famous print campaign for Silk Cut cigarettes.
Paul Arden, who has died aged 67
Paul Arden: We are all advertising, all of the time. Even the priest, with all his or her fervour, is advertising God
This was a visual pun consisting of a sheet of purple silk with a slash in it; the name of the brand did not appear, the only clue to the product being the government health warning against smoking. Arden was also responsible, with Jeff Stark, for the InterCity campaign with the slogan "Relax".
An exuberant character, Arden had a distaste for the obvious and little time for reputations, believing that a person was only as good as his or her last idea.
He could be a harsh critic, prone to ripping up pieces of artwork that he considered ill-conceived. At the same time he was generous with his praise, and particularly liked to encourage the young, who always responded by giving their best.
His unpredictability was famous in the industry. Once, due to give a presentation on the subject of creativity, he arrived on stage followed by a string quartet, which proceeded to play a piece by Beethoven. Arden and the musicians then walked off; he had said not a word, merely showed a few slides.
On another occasion, when delivering a lecture to sales staff from the publishers Phaidon Press, Arden spoke from the podium alongside a man who was completely naked. "This man can be anything he wants to be," he told his audience.
"He has no labels, no Gucci or Armani, you don't even know his name. He could be the manager of a shoe store, he could be the director of the company with a Jaguar, he could be a government minister with two Jaguars... All he has to do is want it enough."
In 2003 Arden took a tilt at the "self-help" market, publishing It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be.
This attempted to give a wider application to the lessons he had learned during his career in advertising. Clarity of communication is more important than cleverness, he suggested; do not be frightened of ideas that might appear to be ridiculous ("Look at Engelbert Humperdinck").
He advocated risk-taking, telling his readers that being fired could be a "positive career move" and "can show initiative" (Arden himself was fired on five occasions early in his career). He praised Victoria Beckham - who, as a teenager, had said: "I want to be as famous as Persil Automatic" - for understanding the value of branding and setting no limit on her aspirations.
The book has sold more than a million copies worldwide, despite its author's cheerful admission: "I can't write... I read as much George Orwell as I could, just to learn how to keep it down, take out the adjectives, make it as simple as I could."
Paul Howard Arden was born on April 7 1940, the son of a commercial artist, and grew up in a council house at Sidcup, Kent.
After attending Beckenham Art College he went to his first advertising agency, where he started washing out water pots for the artists. He then worked at Ogilvy & Mather and for Doyle Dane Bernbach before widening his experience at several other agencies before being hired as an art director by Saatchi & Saatchi in 1979.
For much of his career there he worked alongside Jeff Stark, with whom he later became joint creative director of the agency.
In 1987, when Stark went to work in America, Arden was appointed executive creative director. In his 14 years with the agency Arden handled accounts for British Airways, Anchor Butter, Toyota, Ryvita, Nivea, Trust House Forte, Alexon and Fuji, among others.
He left Saatchi & Saatchi in 1992, although he retained a strong connection with the agency, acting as a creative consultant on important accounts until April 1995.
Arden set up, with his daughter-in-law and her brother, a film production company in Soho called Arden, Sutherland-Dodd, beginning a new career as a director of commercials, principally for Europe.
He was dismissive of the British tendency to sneer at his profession, insisting that the role of the advertiser was akin to that of defence counsel in a court of law: "You are a lawyer in court putting the case for your client. If you are a lawyer defending somebody, then you put the best possible case for the client within the rules of the court. "
He added: "We are all advertising, all of the time. If you want to sell your car, what do you do? You clean and polish it and make it the best you can. Some people bake bread when they are trying to sell their house because the smell adds a friendly feeling. Even the priest, with all his or her fervour, is advertising God. Everybody is selling. It's part of trade, barter, dealing and negotiating - it's a part of life."
Arden was also the author of Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite (2005) and of God Explained in a Taxi Ride (2007), which attempted to explain the meaning of life in 125 pages - he accepted that some would see the work as "a bit of fluff", but said that such critics had "tunnel vision" and that "the tunnel goes right up their arse".
In recent years he had contributed a column to The Independent.
Throughout his career Arden had worked with (and been inspired by) photographers, such as Richard Avedon, Snowdon and Norman Parkinson. He collected modern photographic prints, and five years ago he and his wife, Toni, set up a photographic gallery, Arden & Anstruther, near their home at Petworth, West Sussex.
Paul Arden, who died on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack, is survived by his wife and by their son and daughter.
Tribute: A legend who was never dull, ordinary or safe
Dave Trott remembers Paul Arden, the maverick creative who rose to become one of the British advertising industry's great talents
Monday, 7 April 2008
Paul Arden's death came as a shock. I'd got used to Paul ignoring the normal little everyday rules that restrict the rest of us; it just never occurred to me that he'd find a barrier he couldn't ignore.
When Paul was diagnosed with an incurable lung condition, a condition that eventually restricted his movements to the length of the oxygen tube stretching from his breathing machine, I thought Paul's life would wither as his lungs did.
But during that period, and while attached to the oxygen machine, Paul directed commercials, wrote advertising campaigns, opened and ran a photographic gallery, and wrote three best-selling books. I told him I admired the way he hadn't let his condition slow him down and that he'd accomplished more during that period than most able-bodied people do in their life.
Toni, Paul's wife, told me: "You have to understand, the only way to cope with this is to live in complete denial." That is why Toni was the perfect wife for Paul. He lived his life in denial of the sort of barriers that stop the rest of us before we start.
Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of what other people might think, fear of losing our job. All the things that look like insuperable obstacles, Paul just didn't see them; he went right through them as if they weren't there. So they weren't.
When Paul wanted to quit his job as a creative director at one agency to be an art director at Saatchi, it didn't look like a smart move to me. It was a step down to go from creative director to art director. But he wanted to work at an agency that he admired, with people he admired, so he saw it as a step up.
And in his first year at Saatchi, he won a prestigious D&AD award for a brilliant Health Education Council ad highlighting old people dying from hypothermia. He said he wanted to learn to be great at TV ads, not just press ones. I thought, "He won't find that so easy."
But over the next couple of years, he won several D&AD awards for television, including a Solid Fuel Advisory Service ad that showed a cat, a dog and a mouse sleeping together in front of a fire. He said he wanted to be the overall creative director at Saatchi. I thought, "Lotsa luck."
He became creative director, and was behind Saatchi's best decade ever, with work such as the slashed purple material that signified Silk Cut cigarettes, The Independent's "It is. Are you?" campaign, a British Airways ad that had a huge face made up of people from all over the world, and the Castlemaine XXXX campaign that claimed "Australians wouldn't give a XXXX for anything else". When he said he was going to leave Saatchi to direct commercials, I said, "Paul, you're mad. Don't do it."
In his first year as a director, his production company Arden, Sutherland-Dodd won the Palm d'Or at Cannes. Then came his debilitating breathing problems.
And so he said he really fancied being a best-selling author. And I said, "You know, advertising books have a very limited market. It probably won't sell outside of London."
Paul's son, Christian, told me last week that Paul's first book has sold another 100,000 copies just in the first three months of this year, and it's already in its fourth year of printing. Wherever I've been in the world, I've seen copies of it in German, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Japanese... whatever is the local language. In New York, CEOs buy it by the crate to give a copy to everyone in their company.
The last thing you could ever accuse Paul of was being ordinary. In fact, to most people, Paul Arden looked like a complete nutcase. Which Paul, of course, would take as a huge compliment. Because he didn't aspire to the same things as those people.
He was irascible, awkward, tempestuous and sulky. He was also brilliant, original, electrifying and inspiring. He was going to do his job to the best of his ability, no matter what. And his job was to make ads that knocked your eyes out.
It wasn't until he worked for Saatchi that he found someone smart enough and powerful enough to understand the value of a true creative maverick. What Charles Saatchi and Jeremy Sinclair spotted in Paul was someone who didn't think like other people. It gave them another dimension to the talented department they already had (like Alex Ferguson bringing Eric Cantona into Manchester United).
Paul would look at the same things everyone else did, but he'd see things no one else did. He was once telling me about a night he'd had at the theatre. "It started off marvellously," he said. "We sat down and they opened the curtains, and there it was: a massive wall filling the stage. Nothing else; just a huge brick wall confronting the audience. I was stunned. And then they went and ruined the whole bloody thing by bringing on actors, just like any other play."
Paul didn't want the predictable, or the expected, the ordinary, or dull, or safe – what was the point? He wanted the risky, the unusual, the daring, which brought with it fear, insecurity and adrenalin. Wasn't that the whole point of being alive?
Instead of trying to make Paul another tame creative director, Saatchi gave him his head. He demanded Paul shock him; it was a marriage made in heaven.
The next years were the best in Paul's or Saatchi's history: ads that had the visual style and class of the legendary agency Collett Dickenson Pearce at its best. But ads that also had the confrontational aggressiveness of Saatchi's at its best. And – something no one had seen before – influences derived directly from fine art.
He certainly changed advertising. Suddenly, art directors had to know where the art galleries and museums were, not just the fine restaurants. Paul introduced artistic influences from Duchamp to Cocteau, from Man Ray to Ruscha.
But Paul not only changed advertising; he changed the way films are directed, he changed book publishing – in fact, he changed everything he turned his hand to. The title of Paul's first book is the title of Paul's life: It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be.
Dave Trott is creative director of CST (Chick, Smith, Trott)
D&AD pays tribute to Arden
07 April 2008
In response to the sad news of Paul Arden's passing, D&AD chairman Anthony Simonds Gooding says, "Paul Arden was one of the most exceptional creative directors I've known, with an individualism and passion for perfection that resulted in some of the best advertising of the 80s and 90s.
"He was awarded numerous Yellow Pencils throughout his career, and a Black Pencil in 1991 while still at Saatchi & Saatchi. Graham Fink presented him with the President's Award in 1996 for a contribution to creativity that really can be considered outstanding.
"Paul's passing will leave a hole in British advertising - his idiosyncrasies made him unforgettable and his generosity and encouragement to students and young creatives is an example to all."
Fri, Apr. 4th, 2008 08:38 am
The good ad man
I tend to think that ad men can't be gurus, and that a creative director most famous for a cigarette campaign (the Silk Cut "silk cunt" purple silk slash) couldn't possibly have done the world much good. But British ad guru Paul Arden, who died this week aged 67, wrote a self-help book -- a thought experiment of sorts -- called Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite, and I'm going to follow his advice today. Whatever I think about advertising, I'm going to try thinking the opposite.
Paul Arden worked for Saatchi and Saatchi in the 80s, masterminding ads for British Airways, Silk Cut, Anchor Butter, InterCity and Fuji. Later he started his own agency, Arden Sutherland-Dodd, and did campaigns for BT, BMW, Ford, Nestle and Levis. He's the man who advertised The Independent newspaper with the slogan "It is. Are you?" (The paper later gave him a column, which is where his bestselling motivational books began.) He came up with "The car in front is a Toyota".
His first book, It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be, contained ideas like these:
The problem with making sensible decisions is that so is everyone else.
Why do we strive for excellence when mediocrity is required?
Don't try to please the client.
Have you noticed how the cleverest people at school are not those who make it in life?
If you can't solve a problem it's because you're playing by the rules.
You don't have to be creative to be creative.
You don't have to be able to write to be able to write.
Don't seek praise, seek criticism.
Sometimes it's good to be fired.
There is no right point of view.
It's right to be wrong.
Those last two thoughts contradict each other, but maybe there's nothing wrong with self-contradiction if nothing is wrong? Maybe it's better to be interesting than right? Maybe wrong is the new right? Let's think those thoughts today, or think their opposites. Maybe there isn't much difference between thoughts like that and their opposites.
Arden's second book details cases of people breaking through to new success by thinking the opposite of what they previously thought. He starts it with Dick Fosbury, a highjumper who came up with the Fosbury Flop. Previously Fosbury, like everyone else, had vaulted forwards, crossing the bar parallel to it. Then one day he did the opposite; he flopped over it backwards, and broke the world record. Penguin did the same thing, says Arden, when they invented the paperback:
"Good writers, good design and good value at sixpence. Sounds obvious. Not in 1934. Booksellers told Penguin, 'If we can't make a profit on 7s 6d, how can we make one on sixpence?' Writers thought they would lose their royalties. Publishers would not agree to sell their titles for paperback printing. Only Woolworths, who sold nothing over sixpence, was cooperative. As a publishing venture it was considered a bad idea. The founder of Penguin, Allen Lane, thought the opposite. The rest is history!"
After leaving Saatchi, Arden started a film company, taught at the School of Communication Arts, and founded his own agency. His film company made this rather interesting (or interestingly boring) film, The Man Who Couldn't Open Doors. To me, it's a take on Colin Wilson's The Outsider. It looks like an ad, but it's slowed way down, so you just get the metaphysical remoteness of advertising, its detachment from life. Instead of machismo, a certain kind of pathos is communicated. We're in the world of 1980s advertising, but also the world of Magritte and Camus.
"All the man who couldn't open doors had in his flat was a poster of Mao Tse Tung. The previous tenant had left it." Somehow, I can recognize that that thought comes from the same man who made the Silk Cut ad. It has the same Zen-like emptiness. Arden was apparently such a perfectionist that people joked he wouldn't play football unless the grass was the right shade of green. But he was also religious. His last book was called God Explained in a Taxi Ride.
Here's his take on 9/11:
"If instead of showing strength by spending billions on weapons of war, the West was to build a mosque on Ground Zero, it would be a remarkable symbol of our understanding of the Islamic point of view. It would be a major step towards world peace."
Here are some of Paul Arden's other pieces of advice:
If people constantly reject your ideas or what you have to offer, resign. You can't keep fighting and losing, that makes you a problem. If you are good and right for the job, your resignation will not be accepted. You'll be re-signed, on your terms. If they accept your resignation, you were in the wrong job, and it is better for you to move on. It takes courage, but it is the right move.
Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have. Without having a goal it's difficult to score.
To creative types: don't worry about the medium you work in, focus on the money you'll make. It's honest.
Paul Arden gave lectures which, according to Creativity Online, were boring at the time but interesting for years afterwards when you thought back. "In one industry talk, he stood silently next to a woman playing the cello. Another time he gave a speech with a naked man on stage, demonstrating that a person is a blank canvas. And he once hired an actor to babble onstage while Mr. Arden displayed meaningless charts. His point was that although no one in the audience knew what was going on, they would never forget it."
In an interview with The Independent shortly before he died, Arden struggled with the question of advertising's moral culpability:
"If anyone is to be accused, it's the manufacturer," says Arden, who also believes that the state should take responsibility for irresponsible ads. "Cigarette advertising should have been banned by government but they wouldn't because it brought in too much money. It's the government that's corrupt," he says. "We all in our heart know that casinos are wrong. They are a way of robbing poor people of their money. Why does the government allow them? Because they make a lot of money. It's not the people advertising the casinos or the lottery but the governments that allow them that are creating the cancer."
Although nobody denies that he was a difficult man and a perfectionist, his colleagues remember Arden fondly. A good ad man might be something of a contradiction in terms, but today, in tribute to Arden, let's think the opposite of what we think.
We were sad to learn that Paul Arden died yesterday, after battling a long illness. As Executive Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi, Arden was responsible for many of Britian's best ad campaigns, including British Airways and Silk Cut (see above). However, he is probably best-known in recent times for his writing, having penned a number of inspirational bestsellers including "It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be" (which has sold over half a million copies), "Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite" and "God Explained in a Taxi Ride". Creative Review has opened an online book of condolences to mark Arden's unique contribution.
Paul Arden: Saatchi & Saatchi creative director behind many of the firm's best-known advertising campaigns
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
Paul Arden was a legend in the largely anonymous world of advertising. He followed Jeremy Sinclair as the chief creative in Saatchi & Saatchi through the firm's most glamorous and best-known period in the 1980s.
Arden was the ringmaster behind the whole creative circus that saw British Airways become "The World's Favourite Airline", The Independent become the new intelligentsia's favourite newspaper, Margaret Thatcher the nation's favourite leader and Silk Cut their favourite fag. He was aided in this by the patronage of Charles Saatchi, co-owner of Saatchi & Saatchi, the difficult, obstreperous and visually brilliant copywriter whom the difficult, obstreperous and visually brilliant Arden both idolised and feared.
He was actually directly involved with Charles Saatchi on only one campaign, for Silk Cut, in 1983. Saatchi owned paintings by the Italian artist Lucio Fontana. These were basically sewn-up slashes. Saatchi came into our office and said, "Here is the next campaign for Silk Cut. Photograph it." When we pointed out that silk being cut was a concrete idiom, a visual pun that would not work in any other language but English, Saatchi would have none of it.
So in the typical excess of the 1980s, the next three months saw five world-renowned still-life photographers, under Arden's direction, fiddling around, cutting up bits of silk to get the right effect. On Saatchi's mandate, the pictures were then blown up to full 48-sheet poster size and posted outside Charlie's office window on a special hoarding on the roof of our Charlotte Street headquarters, so that he and Arden could select the one that worked the best.
The final poster campaign became the basis of one of the simplest and most graphically clever English advertising campaigns ever, one that was surreally funny, and sometimes gargantuanly misguided – like Arden's attempt to "do a Christo" by stretching a mile of purple silk across an American canyon and slashing it from a huge crane for a cinema commercial.
This blend of financial devil-may-care, artistic sensibility and sheer bloody-mindedness was Paul Arden in a nutshell. The artistic sensibility he inherited from his father, Les, a shy, sensitive painter from Leicester, whose bucolic watercolours were exhibited at the Royal Academy, a hobby which suited his gentle temperament far better than his job as a visualiser in advertising. Paul, on the other hand, though not as accomplished a painter, was an indomitable perfectionist in the quick-witted, cut-throat advertising world. And though Arden frequently had his throat cut – he was fired six times – phoenix-like he rose to better jobs and greater acclaim.
Arden went into advertising after leaving Beckenham Art College, and worked at several agencies, including Doyle Dane Bernbach, Lintas and Colman & Partners before joining Saatchi & Saatchi in 1979, as executive creative director. He stayed until 1992, when he left to set up the film production company Arden Sutherland-Dodd.
At Saatchi's, Arden and I led the team that created the campaign for the launch of The Independent for Andreas Whittam Smith in 1986. For a media business like advertising, launching the first quality newspaper in 112 years was an absolutely plum job. Accordingly we assembled a crack team – a great new copywriter, Peter Russell, the brilliant art directors Digby Atkinson and Chris Gregory, and the best young account man in Saatchi's, Robert Saville (who turned copywriter on this campaign and later founded Mother, the unsurpassed postmodern advertising agency).
We gave the art directors the line, "The Independent. It is. Are you?" and Arden, Atkinson and Gregory added the Saatchi hallmark of elegant surrealism: the poster of two peas in two pods and the commercial of sheep dutifully following each other into a butcher's lorry, employing fine art direction to nail our strategy of independent thinking. Arden and I stood at Baker Street station on launch day, bought 20 copies each and watched as the public demolished the rest of the huge pile. It is the only time I saw Paul cry.
In the 1970s, many advertising people like Paul Arden, Dave Trott, Robin Wight and myself got involved in EST (Erhard Seminars Training), a rather vicious Californian self-realisation course. It had a profound effect on Trott and I. We both got divorced. But not Paul; he stuck loyally with Toni, his long-suffering Danish wife, who was always the one point of certainty in his often tumultuous life. None the less EST's brand of eclectic philosophy, populist psychology and quasi-religious enthusiasm got under Arden's skin and erupted magnificently 20 years later in his bestselling first book, It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be (2003).
I never fully bought into Arden's Dadaist talks where he spoke while a naked man stood next to him, or the string quartet who played as he stood silent for another "speech". Part of his eccentricity was as cleverly contrived and deliberate as Dali or Duchamp.
But the unique and almost childlike simplicity of his books, which are clever, funny and fiendishly wise (he published Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite in 2006, and God Explained in a Taxi Ride, 2007), remind me so much of Werner Erhard, the sage former car dealer who founded EST. Erhard's masterly aphorisms, like "Always ride the horse in the direction it is going", are frequently matched and even bettered by Arden's epithets: "Have you noticed that the cleverest people at school are often not the ones who succeed in life?" Even the clever conceit in the subhead for the first book, "The world's best-selling book by Paul Arden", is a brilliant piece of commercial double-talk that I'm sure helped him sell over a million copies.
He often seemed to speak in riddles or even faintly autistically to blurt out the most inappropriate and unkind things. Once when proudly shown a photograph of an account woman's newborn, he responded enthusiastically, "I love ugly children." I believe there was no malice, but watching a team's faces turn from beaming smiles to horror as critiquing their work he screamed "Yes. Yes. Yes", then suddenly mid-sentence and mid-thought, starting to stamp and shout "No. No. No." and then rip up the storyboard, you might wonder. Certainly it's not a tactic recommended by many management manuals.
With Arden you either bought his full-steam-ahead directness or you didn't and but for Toni's calm and regal marshalling of her difficult charge I don't think there would have been many long-term buyers. Toni and Paul shared everything, especially his love of art, particularly photography, of which they amassed a large and refined collection, which finally emerged in their gallery in Petworth, Sussex.
Sometimes his fabled bumbling went beyond the bounds of tolerance, for example when as the best man at my wedding Paul committed the ultimate cliché and lost the ring. Like many of his self-centred gaffes, it was more funny in the retelling than the reality. In the end, though, Paul Arden's innate kindness would poke through. As an indefatigable champion of the underdog, probably fired by his humble beginnings in a council house in Sidcup, he was the mentor of scores of misunderstood, overlooked or underrated creatives like Graham Fink, Alex Taylor and Mark Reddy who have gone on to sparkling careers in advertising.
Paul Howard Arden, advertising executive and writer: born Sidcup, Kent 7 April 1940; executive creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi 1979-92; married (one son, one daughter); died Petworth, West Sussex 2 April 2008.
Saatchis' creative director in their peak era for design-led ad campaigns
Wednesday April 9, 2008
As executive creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, Paul Arden, who has died aged 67, reigned over an era of successful and stylish marketing campaigns. He was also a bestselling author, the co-owner of a photographic art gallery near his home in Petworth, Sussex, and a unique man.
Arden was a pre-eminent figure in British advertising in the 1970s and 1980s. By the end of his 14-year tenure at the agency he had overseen campaigns for British Airways, InterCity, Fuji, Castlemaine XXXX, Anchor Butter and, with Charles Saatchi, the Silk Cut print ads featuring a slashed sheet of undulating purple silk. He also came up with the slogans "The Independent. It is - are you?" and "The car in front is a Toyota". He was crucial to the rebirth of design-led advertising.
Almost completely self-educated (he left school at 16), Arden distrusted claims made for education. He regarded academic qualifications as an indicator of what someone had done rather than what that person was capable of achieving. In his first book, It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be (2003) - a primer for advertising creatives - he extolled the virtues of being fired (Arden had been sacked from five jobs before Saatchi) and praised the originality of Victoria Beckham's claim of wanting to be "more famous than Persil Automatic". He encouraged people to work with the best in the business no matter how difficult or demanding.
Better than working with "Mr Average Nice Guy".
Arden was famously, and unapologetically, difficult. When working with him, the trick was to try not to take things too personally - to brace for the criticism and remind yourself that you would eventually get it right.
Last year, when we were putting the finishing touches on his final book, he would point out some minute detail that he did not approve. He would stare at it for a couple of minutes and then burst out, in a mounting tone of derision, with "No ... no ... no. NO. NO! I DON'T like it. I don't LIKE it". The illustrator would fiddle around for a few minutes and there would be another silence. "Yes! Yes! Yes! It's marvellous! OK, next page." And so it happily went along.
Once you had got used to the fact that Arden was not wired like other people, and did not respond to things in ways anyone had seen before (he once asked if he could buy a Camden council water-mains repair works, mistaking it for a piece of installation art), you could grow fond of him - of his generosity, enthusiasm, and his unpredictable sense of what might be fun to do.
Arden, who grew up in a council house in Sidcup, Kent, was the son of a commercial artist whose profession was a formidable influence on his son. Arden was a visual thinker, much more an artist than a writer. Given that his books have sold more than a million copies, this might seem a curious statement.
However, there is a recurring theme in all his work, which is that to be exceptional at anything you must first dispense with convention. In Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite (2005), he said that the greatest advice ever given was from the Harper's Bazaar art director, Alexey Brodovitch, to a young photographer, Richard Avedon: "Astonish me." "Bear these words in mind," Arden wrote, "and everything you do will be creative."
He attended Beckenham Art College briefly, then worked at Ogilvy & Mather, Doyle Dane Bernbach and other prominent agencies before joining Saatchi & Saatchi in 1979. David Hieatt, who worked as a copywriter under Arden, remembers that "he was the spirit of the place. Saatchis' was him. It wasn't Charles or Maurice. It was Paul's agency, with their name on the door".
He left in 1992 to found, with his daughter-in-law, Arden Sutherland-Dodd, a Soho film production company specialising in commercials, which won a Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1998.
He turned to writing in 2003. He showed up at the Frankfurt book fair - where he knew absolutely nobody - with nothing but a rough version of a book; and he landed himself a publishing deal. This is almost unheard of but it perfectly illustrates Arden's way of operating. He knew he wanted to publish a book, and he knew that he could find publishers in Frankfurt, so that is where he went.
That this was not how it is usually done, and that he was very likely on a fool's errand, did not bother him. His attitudes were not just fashion statements; he was driven by his sense that if you wanted something badly enough, you would find a way to get it.
He is survived by his wife, Toni and his son and daughter.
· Paul Howard Arden, advertising creative and writer, born April 7 1940; died April 2 2008
April 11, 2008
Tempestuous advertising director who thought up memorable campaigns for Silk Cut, BA and The Independent.
The Eighties were the adman's decade; Saatchi & Saatchi were the admen's admen, and Paul Arden was the mercurial creative spirit who gave the agency its visual character. He was involved in some of the decade's most memorable advertisements, including Silk Cut's slashed purple, The Independent's launch campaign and the British Airways spot in which hundreds of people come together to make a giant smiling face.
He was also one of advertising's most distinctive personalities, inspiring and insulting in equal measure. His sharp photographic eye and his extravagant commitment to detail got his ads noticed and put him at the forefront of the shift to a more visual style of advertising.
In later life, despite confessing that “I'm not a writer, I'm afraid of words”, he became a bestselling self-help guru, and his approach to life is summed up by the titles of his books: It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be (2003) and Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite (2006).
Paul Howard Arden was born in 1940 and grew up in a council house in Sidcup, Kent, son of a commercial artist. He went to Beckenham Art College before going into advertising, working at a succession of such leading agencies as Doyle Dane Bernbach and Ogilvie & Mather and getting fired from most of them. For a time he was a freelance photographer before becoming creative director at a small agency. In 1979 he joined Saatchi & Saatchi as an art director. Jeremy Sinclair, who hired him, said that Arden gave “another dimension” to the agency, complementing the verbal skills of Charles Saatchi with the ability to make advertisements look as good as possible.
Under Charles Saatchi's direction, Arden created the Silk Cut campaign in 1983, finding exactly the right silk to be cut and exactly the right photographers to capture it. Run without any slogan, sometimes with only the official health warning to identify the brand, the ads became some of the best known of the decade; in David Lodge's novel, Nice Work (1988), the characters use the iconic image as the basis for a lengthy discussion of semiotics.
Arden created award-winning ads for Alexon clothing and worked on the campaign for the launch of The Independent, adding a smart series of visuals to force home the independent-minded message of the classic slogan, “It is. Are you?” Other notable hits included the InterCity Relax campaign in which chess pieces unwind contentedly, and advertisements for Trust House Forte featuring nuns bouncing on hotel beds. In 1987 Arden became executive creative director at Saatchi and oversaw the hugely ambitious airborne spectacular for British Airways, which Saatchi had branded “the world's favourite airline” earlier in the decade.
He searched relentlessly for new and surprising ideas and was unafraid of refusing to give clients what they wanted, believing that only the unexpected would stand out. “There is no distinctive style here,” he said in 1990. “If there was we would have to put a stop to it immediately.”
Arden was notoriously difficult to work with; he was intolerant of substandard work and unafraid of making his displeasure known in direct, and sometimes physical terms. “Life with Paul was one long furious row,” said a former colleague. Advertising for him was more of a way of life than a job. His drive for perfection paid little heed to constraints of cost or time and while many found him infuriating, his passion for good advertising enthused his colleagues. He carefully cultivated his image as an eccentric and a maverick.
In 1992 Arden left Saatchi, reportedly after a row about costs. The following year he set up a film production company, Arden Sutherland-Dodd, and won awards for his ads for clients including Nescafé, BT, Colgate and Right Guard. He also directed a short film, The Man Who Couldn't Open Doors (1997).
Unexpectedly, he turned to writing in 2003, taking to heart his own message in It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be. This was a richly illustrated, low-density book full of pithy aphorisms based on his own approach to life, such as: “Knowledge is the opposite of originality” and “If you can't solve a problem it's because
you're playing by the rules”. Reviews in this country were poor, but USA Today called it “a wonderfully designed manifesto of no-nonsense career advice”, and many of the book's hundreds of thousands of sales came in the US. Arden said he wanted the book to encourage young people to believe in themselves. “I'd really like to have given it away to people leaving sixth form, before they go to work.”
For several years he had an Independent column dispensing bite-sized wisdom such as “the problem with making sensible decisions is, so is everyone else”. Last year came his attempt to provide a short introduction to the meaning of life, God Explained in a Taxi Ride.
Arden collected the works of numerous important photographers, which he exhibited in a gallery at his home in Petworth, West Sussex. He was scornful of those who looked down on advertising. “We are all advertising, all of the time,” he said. “Even the priest is advertising God.”
He is survived by his wife, Toni, a son and a daughter.
Paul Arden, advertising executive, was born on April 7, 1940. He died of a heart attack after a long illness on April 2, 2008, aged 67