Seeing Ghosts

Today on the Times Square Shuttle my subway car was given over to the latest round of Continental Airlines ads–the “Work Hard. Fly Right.” campaign that’s run since 1998.

I was the creative director on this campaign at Ayer. Not the writer–Jack Cardone wrote the line. Not the art director–Mike Grieco developed the blue field/gold globe/white type look.
And they run the business creatively to this day, now at Kaplan Thaler.

I did what creative directors on big brands do: picked the winner out of the line-up, got everyone saluting internally, sold it to the client, sold it to the client’s resentful international agency roster and fought off the forces of re-think during the campaign’s infancy.

Seeing the work in the subway–hell, getting on a Continental flight and looking at the cocktail napkin–is an odd experience. I see the whole back-story: the brief, the tissues up on the wall, Gordon Bethune, then-CEO of Continental, laughing and cussing. I feel an intimate connection to this work. But it’s a ghostly connection. These ads live on, but in a different plane of existence than mine.

All creatives who have contributed to long-lasting campaigns have had this feeling–like they’re Alec Baldwin and Gina Davis walking around their house in Beetlejuice. It’s both gratifying and creepy when work lives on after you have moved on.

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