disponibile anche in italiano

Adages for Ad Agencies

by Paul Foley – 1978

Some famous people in the advertising business,
such as David Olgilvy and Bill Bernbach,
were copywriters and heads of large, worldwide agencies.
But hardly anyone remembers Paul Foley,
who never sought fame for himself.
He was an excellent writer, a great creative director,
and had no ambition to become a top manager.
But when he was asked to become
chairman and CEO of the Interpublic group
he did remarkably well in that position.
(He never gave up his original role:
«I am a card-carrying copywriter», he used to say.)
He was also a man of fascinating cultural depth,
with a genuine sense of humor
and charming personal warmth.

These “adages” were written in 1978
as an internal memo for McCann–Erickson
and other agencies in the group.
But they are meaningful also
for people working in other fields.

This picture appeared in the original paper
to point out that Paul Foley,
whatever his role, rank or title,
was and remained a writer.


The ultimate client is the Consumer;
lose her and all is lost.


All problems are “creative”
problems sooner or later.


Put your trust in simple sentences
and simple arithmetic.


Mistrust four syllable words and
continuous reports of tranquillity.


Beware of management
by total surprise.


Large meetings are often
used to share the blame.


It’s easy to get a unanimous
vote for doing nothing.


It is possible to make excellent television
commercials within 100 miles of home.


Most people put a low value on what
they do not know how to do themselves.


It is difficult to build a backlog of good will;
ill will, yes – but good will starts
from scratch at 9.00 every morning.


Paul Foley was one of the people who taught me
the art of effective communication
– without ever posing as a teacher –
and also management and humanity.
I enjoyed him as a person as well as a leader.
He was close, in many ways, to the example
characterised in Brown’s Job.

Giancarlo Livraghi – January 2005


Homepage Gandalf