The Big Idea…The Only Idea

Richard J. Lord

The title of what I'm going to talk about is The Big Idea ... The Only Idea. Now, don't misunderstand me about this title. It's not a Gung Ho kind of thing or a half-time pep talk title.

It doesn't mean that the only idea you can ever have is a big idea. It's great when it happens that way. But big ideas are hard to come by. No. What I mean by this title is just the truth. Because, at the time we started to do our Cancer Society commercials, the big idea I've been asked to talk about was the only idea we had as an agency. And the reason it was the only idea was that we didn't have any other accounts.

It all started one afternoon. We had opened our agency a few weeks before this fateful day and ... nothing had happened. So we were practicing our hook shots into the wastepaper basket when the phone rang. And, at the time, a ringing phone was a major event.

It was the American Cancer Society. They wanted to know if we would be interested in submitting ideas for television commercials directed against cigarette smoking.