Woke up to the news of David Abbott's demise, last morning. Twitterverse from the adland ensured I didn't miss any link that paid homage to this man and his exemplary work. Some posts went to the extent of saying that his death seems like a personal loss to them, that they feel a void. I get the void bit, notwithstanding the fact that most of us mourning haven't met him even once in our lifetimes.
I have always heard his name whenever an ad veteran would talk about who he/she considered to be, well, ad veterans. When I first saw the Chivas Regal ad (thanks to a dear friend whose repertoire of knowledge of great advertising work I supremely envy), I felt more than just a lump in my throat. Wait, the ad first:
This ad, these words, did what nothing has been able to do to me so far. It made me wish I were a son. More so, it made me wish I had a father who I could dedicate these words to. That's the most personal thought I've shared on the cloud so far. You can imagine the extent to which this ad would've made an impact on me.
What's more? When I read more about his work and what he stood for, I understood how important it is to keep your writing simple. When you're in the business of writing (especially when you love words, like I do), it's always a challenge to keep your prose simple and your poems simpler. Over the years, I'm glad I have been able to gradually align my writing with his belief:
“Words for me are the servants of the argument, and on the whole I like them to be plain, simple and familiar.”
To give you a sense of how much his fraternity and his peers revered him, here's something Tony Brignull, another British ad legend had said about Abbott once:
"There are a few of us writers around who think of ourselves as the sons of Bill Bernbach. I have a feeling David is the only one who'd pass a blood test."
As I type this, I am listening to one of his interviews where he tells William Channer about what he learnt from Bernbach and David Ogilvy. Give it an ear, here.
This is what he's saying right now: "When you start off in copywriting, you fall in love with words. In my early days in advertising, I used to be an inveterate punster. As I got older and wiser, my style became more plain."
And with that, my wish to interview him in my afterlife strengthens.
You can relish some of his ads I found online:
Pictures courtesy: Google Images