Lessons from a manila folder

One of my global advertising campaigns was for Harry Winston diamonds. To help the brand reclaim its place atop the jewelry food chain, we enlisted the help of legendary fashion and fine art photographer Richard Avedon. He was notorious for turning down inquiries. The fact that he agreed to shoot our campaign was a minor miracle. (We wooed him with a love letter.) With him on board, we recruited movie stars such as Anjelica Huston and Mena Suvari to be our models.

Once the shoot was over, I found a manila folder full of Richard’s images for the campaign with an intriguing note on it.

Richard-Avedon
On the cover he’d scrawled in red grease pencil:

I don’t like any of these. They look like an ad.
– Dick

Ironic, because of course they WERE an ad. But he didn’t want photography that LOOKED LIKE an ad.

He knew to stand out, it had to be different. And being different was key to Richard Avedon’s success.

I kept the manila folder and framed it against black velvet in gold frame. It hangs on my office wall.

I’m also showing an example of the campaign with Anjelica Huston. The headline I wrote says: “Far too much makes perfect sense. Far too little makes none.”

The campaign was wildly successful and helped Harry Winston reclaim its power stance. It was also one of the last campaigns Richard Avedon ever shot and currently hangs in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

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About the author

Sally Hogshead

Sally skyrocketed to the top of the advertising world in her early 20s, fascinating millions of consumers for clients such as MINI Cooper and Coca-Cola. Since then, she’s published two New York Times bestsellers on the science of fascination, and is one of only 172 living members in the Speaker Hall of Fame. Over a million professionals have taken the Fascination Advantage® personality test to discover how others perceive their communication.

4 Comments

  1. Kelly Smales

    You are unbelievably talented Sally.

    Thank you for your constant inspiration:)

    Kel.

  2. Kristin J Arnold

    Love this story. So compelling – and really launched your work on fascination! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Janette Toral

    An inspiring example Sally. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Rob Nowell

    What?? You worked with Richard Avedon?
    Ok Sally I didn’t think I could any more impressed with you than I already am.
    But come one… you worked with Avedon?
    WOW

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