Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Great Teachers #3: Lifting Jackie Stewart with the Power of Empathy

               The day Jackie Stewart was demonstrating how Keke Rosberg “comes into the corner in a flurry of feathers and blood,” got off to a slow start.

Jackie looks for the source of a rattle, Judd looks for lunch
             We were at Laguna Seca there was a cold mist coming in from the Pacific making the track slick.  Stewart was driving the “New Ford Turbo Thunderbird” and the first test shots were not encouraging.  All we could see of the 3 time World Champion from the camera car were his carefully combed hair, forehead and eyebrows.
                  I was a Creative Director at JWT and Granger Trip was the creative director.  In other words, Granger was my boss, the capo di capi of creative directors at the largest agency in the world.  Granger was tall and gangly with a the deep resonant voice of a radio announcer and the kindness of a country doctor.  He spoke slowly with a clarity and simplicity and told the truth. He also had that rarest and most powerful trait, empathy; the ability to understand how the world feels to you.  He was the opposite of Don Draper and we all loved him. 

                   So what to do about Stewart sunk below the dashboard?  Ford was paying him truckloads of money, we only had him for the one day shoot.  So we didn’t want to piss him off.

Stewart in his day job
                Still, a cushion was necessary, not only to see his famous face, but also so the car didn’t look like a brontosaurus.

                   I thought, what the hell, take the bull by the horns, be direct and get the painful part over with.  Like
"Jackie, I’m sorry you’re too short.  Here’s a cushion to sit on.”
                   Granger shook his head.  “Jackie,” he called out, “we’re not seeing enough of you in the camera.” 

                     “Oh,” the wee Scot said, “would you like me to sit on a cushion?”

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