Top 250 Lee Clow’s Beard (@leeclowsbeard) Tweets

Lee Clow is currently the Chairman and Global Director of TBWAWorldwide, and was formerly its Chief Creative Officer. Advertising Age referred to him as “advertising’s art director guru”. A young writer named Jason Fox began channeling Lee in the form of Tweets with emanated from the ad legends beard – thus @leeclowsbeard was born.

Each day @leeclowsbeard offers up 140-character thoughts that inspire people to come up with better ideas and suggestions on how to persuade clients to buy these better notions.

Below you will find the top 250 inspirational tweets, insights, and quotes by @leeclowsbeard.

Top 250 Tweets by Lee Clow’s Beard

  1. But everybody’s doing it” remains one of the best reasons not to.
  2. But wait, there’s more” usually assumes too much and delivers too little.
  3. Do you want to buy something” fails in every way “do you want to hear a story” does not.
  4. I wish the logo had been 10% bigger,” said no consumer ever.
  5. It was in the brief” is no excuse for doing something stupid. Nor is editing that “was” to “wasn’t.
  6. Join the conversation” is the new “act now.” That is not a compliment.
  7. Simplify” must never be a challenge aimed solely at the creative department.
  8. We can make up for it in volume” does not apply to poor creative.
  9. We’re going to wait until next year” often indicates a shortfall. Not of cash, but of courage.
  10. Who cares?” is a question best heard from the agency and not the consumer.
  11. You have to pick your battles” implies that you will, at some point, actually pick one.
  12. A brand cannot live by conversation alone.
  13. A brand should always do everything it says, but rarely say everything it does.
  14. A client who asks you to “flush out” your ideas often reveals both a poor grasp of idioms and his ultimate intentions toward the work.
  15. A collection of people who look different but think alike does not a diverse agency make.
  16. A conversation is only as authentic as the action that follows.
  17. A good creative brief avoids plurals.
  18. A good way to get creatives to do their best work is by having a media department that always does theirs.
  19. A great ad surprises with its very existence.
  20. A great brand’s elevator pitch requires nothing more than the company name.
  21. A great idea, boiled down to its essence, becomes impossible to water down.
  22. A logo should never be the biggest thing in an ad unless it’s capable of being the only thing in the ad.
  23. Absence of a smothering media buy makes the target’s heart grow fonder.
  24. Acting with reason is, thankfully, not the same as acting within reason.
  25. Action is the only reaction that matters.
  26. Addressing someone by name may make a message personable, but only relevance can make it personal.
  27. Ads fade. Advertising endures.
  28. Advertising is art that must perform even when not being edgy.
  29. Advertising is not meant to explain your brand promise. It is meant to be your brand promise.
  30. Agencies that expect fair compensation from clients should not feign surprise when their employees expect likewise.
  31. An ad can be anything you want as long as it’s something the brand actually needs.
  32. An ad has to sell itself before it can sell the brand.
  33. An ad meant to be all things to all people rarely means anything to the people who really matter.
  34. An ad need not be perfect to be persuasive.
  35. An ad should contain the truth and nothing but the truth. The whole truth, however, can be saved for the website.
  36. An ad that says everything has little hope of doing anything.
  37. An ad with a little something for everyone is rarely embraced by anyone.
  38. An ad with no flow has plenty of ebb.
  39. An agency divided against itself self may stand for a while, but its work will make people wish it hadn’t.
  40. An attention-grabbing ad with a weak grip does a brand no favors.
  41. An idea is only as great as the movement it effects.
  42. Anyone can tout strategic insights. The proof is in the production.
  43. Approving the creative work before the media buy is always a good idea.
  44. Art is subjective. Effectiveness is not.
  45. Artfully breaking things down into layman’s terms brings a joy that is only surpassed by convincing the client to keep them that way.
  46. As in life, it is sad when merely doing the work one should is considered an act of courage.
  47. As in life, so it is in branding: No one stays true to a relationship built on false pretenses.
  48. Bad ads feel like broken promises. Mainly because they are.
  49. Be patient. Changing people’s perceptions rarely happens overnight. At least not in a good way.
  50. Be wondrously honest.
  51. Before worrying if someone thinks digitally or traditionally, make sure they can think conceptually.
  52. Being better than the competition does not equal being good enough for the consumer.
  53. Being liked is a long way from being loved.
  54. Better to risk a possible defeat than safely accept a self-imposed failure.
  55. Better to see the work collapse under the weight of its own ambition than watch it stand as a shrine to mediocrity.
  56. Better to shoehorn a strategy into an idea than vice versa.
  57. Big ideas rarely impress small minds.
  58. Budgets constrain many things. Creativity is not one of them.
  59. Burying contact info so people spend more time on your site does not count as enhanced brand engagement.
  60. By all means drive people to your Facebook page if your Facebook page drives them to your store.
  61. Claiming all advertising is brand advertising does not justify dumping your entire media budget into FSIs.
  62. Client appeasement is not a job for account management. It’s not a job for anyone.
  63. Clients who expect dog-and-pony shows have already betrayed their love of old-fashioned thinking.
  64. Congrats on compromising your way to unanimous stakeholder approval and total consumer indifference.
  65. Congratulations on being the smartest one in the room. Too bad your brand isn’t the smartest one in the market.
  66. Consensus is an agreement within a group that permits each member to blame the others when things go wrong.
  67. Consumers are the only stakeholders that matter.
  68. Consumers don’t care who did the work, how hard it was to get approved or why it’s watered down. Consumers do not grade on a curve.
  69. Consumers don’t mind if the conversation is one-sided as long as they’re the ones doing the talking.
  70. Consumers instinctively know when a short story is just a tall tale.
  71. Consumers tend to care more about a brand’s standards than its brand standards.
  72. Conversation without conversion is just idle chatter.
  73. Creativity self-perpetuates. Only a malevolent or negligent act of management can stop it.
  74. Dear Asst. AE, The status meeting is about explaining your project’s status, not inflating your own.
  75. Dear Creative Team, “Getting production involved” does not count as stifling your “vision.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
  76. Dear Management, Passion without direction results in frustration for all.
  77. Dearest Client, Feel free to ignore what we have to say if you don’t mind consumers treating you in kind.
  78. Dearest Client, Our apologies for not giving you what you wanted. We assumed you wanted great work.
  79. Dearest Client, We can produce work that says this and that if we also have media that runs here and there.
  80. Dearest Client, You don’t need a more fearless agency. You need a more fearless you.
  81. Deception is the playground of the faux creative.
  82. Do enough projects that you just have to get out the door, and you’ll soon find those are the only ones coming in.
  83. Even people who like it direct don’t like it dull.
  84. Failure hurts less than regret.
  85. Fear the client who utters “what if” with a sense of dread instead of longing.
  86. Few people equate “boring” with “safe.” After all, they can’t equate what that don’t remember.
  87. Few things are more accurately labeled than a dumbed-down ad.
  88. Few things choke a brand’s voice faster than a list of mandatory copy points.
  89. Few things muck up the work faster than mistaking stakeholders for decision makers.
  90. Flee the client who believes “data” is a synonym for “wisdom.”
  91. Focus groups are great for judging creative targeted at the burgeoning focus group population.
  92. Focus groups were created to sell more M&M’s.
  93. Focus on the weight of the message before fretting about the mass of the media.
  94. Foolishness is trying to get people to remember many things when they’d rather remember none.
  95. For each thing a client wants to add to a piece, take away two others.
  96. For every inaction there is an unforeseen and often unwelcome reaction.
  97. Generating buzz is great. Just not as great as generating buyers.
  98. Getting a good case study out of a campaign is a byproduct, not an objective.
  99. Give your brand a purpose beyond making money and you’ll be surprised how much it helps you do just that.
  100. Godspeed, Advertising. You will be remembered fondly if only because no one remembers a bad ad.
  101. Great ads are more than the sum of their exceedingly few parts.
  102. Great agencies make quality and quantity look like the best of friends.
  103. Great brands make people feel like they’re standing apart without standing alone.
  104. Great collaboration only occurs when there is more cross-pollination than cross-examination.
  105. Great copy reads like words to live by. For both the consumer and the brand.
  106. Great ideas manifest themselves in many ways. Sometimes, even in ads.
  107. Great work adds more weight to the logo than any amount of resizing ever could.
  108. Great work always builds consensus, but rarely before it’s produced.
  109. Great work is always rewarded. Just not always by your current employer.
  110. High school English class notwithstanding, no great thing has ever been considered boring.
  111. I didn’t ask if you like it. I asked if the audience will.
  112. I’d rather be reasonably clear and completely engrossing than perfectly clear and completely ignored.
  113. If “just trying to get that off my plate” is the most common phrase heard in your status meetings, seek other employment.
  114. If directness leads to drabness, stay mysterious.
  115. If the first focus group you run is to test the creative, you’re focusing on the wrong issue.
  116. If the marketing department won’t cause a stir inside their own company, good luck getting them to do so in public.
  117. If the medium starts becoming your message, craft a stronger message.
  118. If the unexpected is uninteresting it will remain unwelcome.
  119. If you always have time to discuss how passionate you are, you probably aren’t.
  120. If you can’t sell your agency with your work, good luck selling your agency with the process that produced it.
  121. If you can’t speak like a creative, don’t speak for creative.
  122. If you don’t think your brand should be brash, don’t be brash. If you don’t think your brand should be bold, you’re wrong.
  123. If you have four people doing the work of eight, you should at least pay them the same as six.
  124. If you have to constantly remind your people how empowered they are, they’re not.
  125. If you insist on getting feedback from someone who has no idea what’s going on, make it a consumer and not Chuck in procurement.
  126. If you insist on stroking someone’s ego, make it a customer’s.
  127. If you need to communicate a secondary message, you need create a second ad.
  128. If you only do one thing this year to make your work better, well, that probably isn’t enough.
  129. If you really want someone to leave you alone after 10 seconds, try telling them everything about yourself in 30.
  130. If you really want to make an impression at the pitch, promise to immerse the client in your business instead of the other way around.
  131. If you think different yet act the same, it doesn’t count.
  132. If you want new thinking, ask new questions.
  133. If you want someone’s imagination to run wild, try not penning it in with a list of bullet points.
  134. If you want to keep jargon out of your ads, keep it out of your agency.
  135. If you want to know what might happen, talk to Research. If you want to know what could happen, talk to Creative.
  136. If you want to know what’s wrong with your ad, show 10 people. If you want to know what’s right, show 10 million.
  137. If you want your message to do more, make sure it’s a message and not a bunch of “messaging.”
  138. If you’re serious about ROI, stop dumbing down the I.
  139. If your agency isn’t an aspirational brand, why should any client believe you can make them one?
  140. If your learnings lead the boots on the ground to shift paradigms as stale as your jargon, good luck even snagging the low-hanging fruit.
  141. If your new client’s product doesn’t have decent design, what makes you think your work will be allowed to, either?
  142. Ignoring a focus group of one works just as well as ignoring focus groups of ten.
  143. In advertising, few things give as much offense as those that strive to be inoffensive.
  144. In advertising, the law of diminishing returns kicks in at message number two.
  145. In branding, “bored to death” is not a figure of speech.
  146. In the end, too many ads merely communicate their brands’ love for gigantic logos and even bigger puns.
  147. In your rush to the new, don’t bypass the smart.
  148. Inefficiency may annoy, but ineffectiveness kills.
  149. Inspiration always offends somebody.
  150. Instead of going with something “we can all live with,” let’s try pushing through something we can all celebrate.
  151. It doesn’t matter how many strategies you develop if you have no stories worth sharing.
  152. It is a rare piece of work that cannot be improved by a well-placed strike of the delete key.
  153. It is no coincidence when an ad filled with dictates resembles something cobbled together in a dictatorship.
  154. It’s always nice when someone likes you for being you and not just for your fan-gated coupons.
  155. It’s okay to pitch work as “being cool” if that’s followed by “because it’ll work so well.”
  156. Just because it’s added doesn’t mean it has value.
  157. Just because it’s all been done doesn’t mean it’s all been done well.
  158. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it should be your point of difference.
  159. Just because the page is blank doesn’t mean it has to be filled.
  160. Just because the perspective is fresh doesn’t mean it’s right.
  161. Just because your target is diverse doesn’t mean your personality should be.
  162. Just caring about the idea leads to some mighty poor executions.
  163. Let us neither mistake nor substitute sincerity for authenticity.
  164. Make sure the action you want people to take after seeing your ad is something normal people actually do after seeing an ad.
  165. Make sure the strategy has legs before worrying if the creative will.
  166. Make sure your goal isn’t just a means masquerading as an end.
  167. Make sure your time spent honing the message isn’t time wasted dulling its power.
  168. Many brands have amazingly epic stories behind them that should not appear in full in the ad in front of you.
  169. Many examples of weak advertising can be traced to a weak belief in advertising.
  170. Many people don’t like advertising because so much advertising is so unlikeable. Let’s change that, shall we?
  171. Most ads barely communicate one message well. Let’s not push our luck with two.
  172. Most clients prefer you become an expert about your own business before tackling theirs.
  173. Most clients who say, “We could never run an ad like that,” are sadly correct.
  174. Never apologize for refusing to suck.
  175. Never discount your work for a client that already discounts your work.
  176. Never ruin a great ad by reminding people they’re viewing an ad.
  177. Never schedule a meeting for later to discuss what could be easily ignored right now.
  178. Never take on a client that sends you emails in all caps.
  179. No child dreams of creating mere content.
  180. No creative loves every form of advertising. But the great ones never let their work reveal which ones they loathe.
  181. No one ever became great at advertising by only studying advertising.
  182. No one ever brags about the great conversation they had with their laundry detergent.
  183. No one ever wonders if great work was created via a proprietary branding process.
  184. No use worrying about new ways of reaching people if you don’t have any work capable of reaching people.
  185. Nobody longs for just one more bullet point.
  186. Often, the best defense is a good offense and an even better AE.
  187. One of the worst things a client can ever say is, “You gave me exactly what I was looking for.”
  188. Open-ended questions should never be asked of the closed-minded. Especially when presenting work.
  189. Our charge is not to create a momentary something out of nothing, but to create a meaningful something out of everything we are.
  190. Own a boring brand and you’ll earn every snub of the media you paid for.
  191. People act when they are moved, not called.
  192. People appreciate an ad packed with every possible message as it lets them ignore everything about a brand in one fell swoop.
  193. People care about themselves. Most care about others. Relatively few care about your brand. Speak accordingly.
  194. People don’t look at an ad hoping to be impressed. They look at an ad because something about it already did.
  195. People make brands cool. Not vice versa.
  196. People touting the death of advertising are usually selling some new form of it.
  197. Playing with font size is the purview of the art director, not the brief writer.
  198. Rarely does one pull a great idea out of thin air without it being covered in a thick layer of experience.
  199. Sadly, “that’s not really our brand” too often means “that’s not really me.”
  200. Sadly, that the phrase “nice briefs” is rarely heard in an ad agency has little to do with matters of decorum.
  201. Saying just enough applies to the media buy, too.
  202. Seek forgiveness instead of asking permission when dealing with in-laws, not consumers.
  203. So you say that a brand is more than a logo? Let’s see if your brand guidelines agree.
  204. Sometimes people just want to know what that box of tissues costs without emotionally engaging with their inner phlegm.
  205. Teach clients to expect greatness and no one will complain about giving them what they want.
  206. The best things in life are free. The best things in advertising usually aren’t.
  207. The challenge often lies not in creating something simple, but in keeping it that way.
  208. The difference between “speaking for” and “speaking as” only appears subtle until the work runs.
  209. The difference between discussing a negative and being negative is the difference between solving a problem and creating one.
  210. The first step to becoming an agile agency is to cancel the three-day management retreat about becoming an agile agency.
  211. The greatest feeling you get at the end of a project should be of pride, not relief.
  212. The most flexible ideas are based on unbending ideals.
  213. The most overlooked step in creating something someone wants to share is first creating something anyone wants to see at all.
  214. The one good thing about bad ads is the stark contrast they provide for the great ones.
  215. The only thing people really have to know after seeing an ad is that they want to know more.
  216. The only way to make producing great work not feel like a matter of luck is to make presenting great work a matter of course.
  217. The phrase “art & copy” was probably coined by a writer more concerned about the art of his copy than his ego.
  218. The phrase is “adapt or die.” Not “abandon everything you’ve ever learned and start from nothing or die.”
  219. The phrase is “think before you act.” Not “overthink before you never act.”
  220. The problem for too many brands is not in the getting there, but in figuring out where “there” even is.
  221. The problem with too many stakeholders is their inevitable desire to become stake plungers.
  222. The question is never about what an ad should do, but about how it should do it.
  223. The second B in B2B is still, first and foremost, a C.
  224. There are few things advertising can’t help solve. And even fewer that advertising can solve on its own.
  225. There are few things more frightening than a bad idea with momentum.
  226. There is no message strong enough to cut through self-inflicted clutter.
  227. There is no such thing as an indirect response.
  228. There’s little use creating a brand people can talk to if it isn’t one they actually want to talk about.
  229. Those who fail to adapt rarely knew as much as they thought they did in the first place.
  230. Trust is earned by always doing what is right, which is not always the same as doing what is requested.
  231. We’ll stop taking things personally when consumers stop responding that way.
  232. Weekly status meetings are a great way of reminding everyone to be grateful they aren’t daily.
  233. What doesn’t distill, dilutes.
  234. What most people fail to realize about the shotgun approach is that even a shotgun spreads just one message.
  235. What’s this ad trying to do? It’s an ad. If you don’t know what it should do, get out of the business.
  236. When a client says an idea makes them uncomfortable, ask how losing market share makes them feel.
  237. When people opt in, they’re really granting permission for you to be more interesting.
  238. When writing copy, start with the one message you absolutely have to get across. Then stop.
  239. When you combine pretty with interesting, you often end up with something that’s much more than just pretty interesting.
  240. When you’re busy doing your best, there’s no time to fear the worst.
  241. Whether the glass is half full or half empty depends on who you’re selling it to.
  242. While a big logo may tell people you exist, a big idea tells them why you should.
  243. White space also does wonders for media plans.
  244. Words are as malleable as the truth never should be.
  245. Work defended as being “pretty good for a _______ shop” in private is rarely good enough to defend the brand in public.
  246. Work gets remembered when it’s memorable, not inescapable.
  247. Work is either the right creative or the wrong creative. It is never “too creative.”
  248. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but rarely long enough to keep a brand alive for any length of time.
  249. You deserve a break today from ads telling you what you deserve.
  250. Zigging when others zag sounds nice until you realize how reactionary it is.

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  • Very cool. Thanks. How did you decide on these 250?

    Fox / LCB

  • Bill

    Hey Jason, thanks for the comment on our post. “How did I choose them?” is great question. For the most part these were the tweets that spoke to me the most and made me or my team members say “that’s awesome”, ” love it”, “that’s so true”. Looking forward to future inspiration.

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