The best advertising person?

That’s a tough one.

Advertising is brimming with charismatic people. Yes, they might be arrogant and yes they might be alcohol and even drug addicts. But ultimately, they tend to make wry comments, be coolly self-possessed in situations in which common people would go crazy and stay interesting as that is a big part of the game.

Throughout my humble advertising student path, I’ve admired lots of ad people. Special adoration prize goes to Kevin Roberts (CEO worldwide of Saatchi&Saatchi) with whom I somehow magically arranged a personal meeting in 2010. ‘Magically’ is a little far-fetched definition. I just chased him and his poor secretary via email once I knew he was coming to my university to talk to MBA students.

The meeting was a keep-your-feet-on-the-ground one. Mr. Roberts was polite, witty and inquisitive. I showed him some ideas; he told me what he thought, what I should keep and what should be omitted. We talked of languages, advertising and even of Peter the Rabbit because of his Lancashire origin.

He really means what he says. He says he values communication and young people – boom – he responds to emails and blog post comments.

During a lecture with him dedicated to future communication models he suddenly stood up and interrupted the student presenting at that moment:

‘How are we talking about any form of communication when there’s a desk between you and me?’

He removed the desk aside and went back to his seat.

The student seemed to feel he had been put on the spot. But that wasn’t the case. The desk ‘blocking’ the communication was there. We could all see it. Mr. Roberts just expressed the unvarnished truth.

But as we all know – ‘Frailty, thy name is woman’…

Grand Prix adoration prize goes to Sir John Hegarty (BBH). He sets a shining example of what magic and intelligence can bring when intertwined. His eyes full of mischief and unorthodox humour inspire me always.

Unfortunately he never got back to my email in which I kindly offered him my help for his new wine project. Yet I am well-mannered and would post the link here. (

Despite Mr. Roberts’ honesty, bravery, courtesy {and so many more} AND Sir Hegarty’s eye for design, creativity and fashion, the best ad man is the one I encountered when I was 10.

Karlson on the roof by Astrid Lindgren (author of the very favourite read ‘Pippi Longstocking’)


Karlson is a master-teaser, self-confident short man with a propeller on his back who lives on one roof in Stockholm. He truly believes he is the best at everything he does and has explanation for every life-situation. He lives a dynamic life, accompanied by the Smidge (the little boy who lives in the ordinary house below Karlson’s roof palace). They undergo plenty of adventures including family disbelief in Karlson’s existence, babysitter chase, thieves catching etc.


Karlson stands out as a fictional character in such a formidably intelligent manner that (surprise-surprise) it gets banned in the US.  (

The common criticism was that Karlsson’s antics would incite young children to disobey authority, and mistrust and fear babysitters (in fact the babysitter chapter is one of the liveliest scenes in the whole ‘celebration of creativity’ book).

For the ‘marred’ childhood of people who were deprived of the magic of this book–

It costs as much as 2 VKs on a Friday night out.

For me, he is the best ad man for several reasons:

  1. He has a propeller on his back. Every advertising person needs one of those to manage the excessive workload.
  2. He doesn’t try to imitate anyone. He creates the trends.
  3. He twists everything in his favour. He lies in such an elegant manner that even when you find out you are deceived – you are pleased. (Applies to cosmetics & perfume advertising the most)
  4. He manages excellent relations with partners (the Smidge) and declares openly ‘war’ to his oppressors (the babysitter who is utterly narrow-minded). So bluntness is apparent.
  5. He is smart with numbers and bargaining. Here is the story:

Karlson: Hey, Smidge. I don’t suppose you’ve got any caramels left?

The Smidge: No. Just these three fudges.

Karlson: Hmm.That’s three. But you can’t split three. Any kid knows that

[Karlson takes one of the fudges and swallows it]

The Smidge: No… !!!

Karlson: NOW we can try and split.

6. He does not need days off to brainstorm. He could simply get out of his house, straight on the roof, enjoy the view and create.

7. He possesses the inquisitiveness of a child.

8. He separates the good from the bad.


5 thoughts on “The best advertising person?

  1. James Dorset says:

    Stunning article and great style! I never thought of Karlson as of an ad person, but now when I think about it again – you are right!

  2. melangie says:

    Many thanks, James! I am glad it was an interesting read!

  3. tcalcada says:

    Very easy to read with extremely smart analysis and a superb writing style. Bring on more:)

  4. melangie says:

    Telma, 🙂 thanks for the flattery 🙂 Definitely some more (and better) to come 🙂

  5. Heisann! Thanks for visiting my post about Karlson! I have also copied and pasted a part of your text on
    This is a blog for the work I do with students in Young entrepreneurship!

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