George Tannenbaum’s resume speaks for itself. He is a true veteran of the advertising industry and an absolute icon of copy and copywriting. For the last 37+ years, he’s been making his name widely known in an industry known to not have widely known names. His resume is essentially a Who’s Who of Advertising.
But what makes George great is not just who he has worked with, but how he works and the deep truths he holds close. Not only does he run one of the most insightful and well-written daily blogs on planet earth, AdAged, but his closely-held beliefs flow from his speaking as easily as the words flow in his writing.
For all intents and purposes, George is a Storyteller of Storytellers. In this episode, we cover a range of topics from his time in Big Advertising at Ogilvy to going out on his own, in the midst of a pandemic, no less. In fact, it’s been since going out on his own that George’s voice has only grown stronger as there’s nothing left to hold him back.
Steve: What are common traps for creative directors and copywriters in the industry?
George: It’s getting hands-off. I’ve heard creative directors talking to account people, and they call the people who work for them ‘the creatives.’ No, you’re crazy. Once you’ve let go of your craft and you’re an administrator — go home. It’s like, you should be proving you can.
Steve: What do you think is one of the most challenging things about storytelling you’re trying to help people understand?
George: People have forgotten that we’re supposed to have fun at work. We’re supposed to tell jokes in meetings and so on… You’ll notice with me, I never give a fast answer… But what I found is, you know, you’ll have a meeting on storytelling and then they’ll say, ‘George, could you talk to us about what you do?’ And you’ll say, ‘You know, it’s funny. Many, many, many years ago, I read this ad and I think it’s a perfect example of storytelling…’ And you see everyone in the room going, ‘Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, speed it up.’
So it’s like, they want the storytelling, but they wanted it in a 7-second soundbite. You can’t get them both.
Interested in learning more?
Check out more of Steve’s conversation with George in his blog post here.
Chief George Officer of GeorgeCo. Blog Founder of AdAged.
Spanning 40 years in writing, copywriting, and creative direction in the advertising industry
As the President of Gravity Group, Steve is passionate about helping brands reach their goals through honest, creative marketing and powerful brand stories.
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