Shut Your Mouth, Heraclitus!

By Dave Huerta, VP/Associate Creative Director @ NYCA

Around 500 BCE, there was this dude named Heraclitus and he must have been the first Creative Director of the first agency in Greece. Of all the philosophers, this guy seemed to be only one to talk about how to get to great ideas.

I can see him now, standing in front of a wall with layouts for a gyros stand or something. He’s got his robe on and he’s sipping a venti non-fat Caramel Macchiatto. He paces back and forth as his jr. team sweats his reaction.

“Gyros for Heros”??!! He says. “Well we thought…,” the creative team responds. Heraclitus cuts them off. “That’s shit! I want to see 20 more by tomorrow morning!”

He takes the cap off his $6 drink and violently throws it across the two options the team has brought him.

“The path up and the path down are one and the same!,” he yells.

“You cannot step twice in the same river!,” he screams.

As with most creative directors, no one knows what the hell the guy is saying. The dejected jr. team slinks off to work another night.

Unfortunately, much of what Heraclitus offered up back then wasn’t easily understood. He was called The Obscure, The Riddler, The Dark, and his major sayings were described as difficult to read.

But he knew something and saw something his contemporaries didn’t. And it’s amazing how relevant and helpful his insights can be today in the work we do.

The following article entitled “Be Led Astray” by Roger von Oech, discusses what Heraclitus meant when he said, “Expect the unexpected, or you won’t find it.”

Check it out. Hopefully they can spark something unique in your work.

4 Responses to Shut Your Mouth, Heraclitus!

  1. Jerry Sisti says:

    Very cool, Dave. I’ll have to read more Heraclitus.

    I’m a big fan of Aristotle, the father of rhetorical practice. After all, we are in effect rhetoricians.

    He espoused a three-legged-stool approach–each dependent on the other to stand–of a persuasive argument. It must appeal to:
    – Ethos (establish credibility)
    – Logos (logic – reason for the head)
    – Pathos (emotion – passion to move the heart)

    I’ve found this to be a great tool to examine creative by.

    Those Greek dudes were pretty smart. And I dig the togas.

  2. efficientcom says:

    Nice post. Do you think Heraclitus would’ve liked the famous “lemon” ad?

    • Jerry Sisti says:

      Absolutely. He dug change. He would have seen it as fresh–a new river. He would have fanned Bernbach.

      • NYCAgrow says:

        We’re not that close, Heraclitus and I, but I definitely think he would have applauded Bernbach. I believe he was an agitator, an irritant to the thinking of the time. I think if we played the role of agitator more, Our work and industry would be better for it.

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