How to win an election


‘Truth and light’ (lux et veritas) is the motto of Yale University. It serves as a promise. They have educated five US presidents to date.

The new president went one better and opened his own university. Trump University’s motto was ‘One company. One culture. One goal. Achieving sustainability profitability in 2010’. That should have served as a warning.

Trump University had it’s own playbook. It was submitted to the courts and that evidence has now been unsealed, so the PDF is floating around online.

It’s not big on truth and light. It’s dedicated to the art of the sale and especially how to deal with objections.

First you need to set the stage. We’re told, ‘You don’t sell products, benefits or solutions – you sell feelings.’ So when setting up the room for a presentation, you need to get it right. ‘IPod shuffle, adjust volume as necessary, and cue “Money, Money, Money” song (The O’Jays) for introduction.’

Then you got to figure out how motivated people are to give you money. For example, low initiative would be: “My husband dropped me off and said I had to come because I never leave the house.” That’s why I’m at work, in fairness. High initiative: “I’m ready to make a change in my life because I want to provide a better life for my family.’

No matter what, you ‘Always Assume The Following When Approaching An Attendee During The Sales Break:’

  • They are not 100% happy with their job.
  • Their retirement funds aren’t where they want them to be.
  • They took a lot of time out of their day and drove to the event because they want to have a better life.
  • They want to make a lot more money, and have more options available to them in life.
  • They want to attend our three-day training.
  • That they want someone to come into their life, grab them by the hand, take control, and show them exactly what they need to do to be successful- you’re that person that they’ve been waiting for!
  • That the speaker did their job and closed them- you just need to ask for the sale.

But how do you talk to them one-on-one? How do you get them to buy the bullshit you’re selling? Simple. Do The Donald:

  • Be passionate: There’s no such thing as the magic pill or magic response. Just be strong and passionate! People will be left thinking, “There’s a reason he believes in this so much; I want to be a part of it.”
  • Deliver everything with more emotion, more energy, more excitement, and more intensity!
  • You’re in charge of the conversation; you control the conversation the entire time.
  • It’s not just what you say, but how you say it (be excited, passionate, and intense!)
  • Remember that these people want you to take control. They want someone to grab them by the hand, and show them exactly what to do to achieve their goals.
  • When asking for the sale, you can use this to start the conversation: “You look like you’re ready to get started…” or “I can tell you’re thinking about getting enrolled, what can I help you with?” When asking for the sale, you can use this to end the conversation: “What type of credit card will you be using today?”
  • You need to judge within ten seconds or less if this is someone you’re going to be able to close. If you need to get away from someone that you’re confident will waste your time, ask them for the sale! If they don’t say “Yes, let’s do it,” tell them “Thank you so much for coming down here today. I wish you the best of success; there are other people waiting for me to help them get enrolled. Now if you’re really serious about getting our help, grab a seat at the table and as soon as I’m finished, we’ll talk about getting you enrolled as well.” And move on.
  • Do not let potential students have more than one concern.

And finally, ‘If You’re Still Getting Excuses:’ ‘…say “STOP!! It’s my job to get you to the next level. You will never get ahead in life with excuses. Mr. Trump won’t listen to excuses and neither will we. Excuses will never make you more money; they will just continue to cost you more missed opportunities in life. You’re here today because you’re ready to change that, make more money, and have a better life. I WILL help you accomplish that. I’m going to help you take your first step. Follow me and we will get you enrolled with Trump University, and while you’re filling out the enrollment form, let us know who you would like to bring as a guest. Congratulations and I’m really excited for what you will begin accomplishing in real estate. I’m putting you on a path that you wanted to take years ago. I’m the same as you; sometimes I just need a little push in the right direction. Again, congratulations.”

As the playbook observes, ‘When you’re direct and don’t allow them to make excuses, they realize you’re right and appreciate you doing your job.’

Hail Trump.

What I made you think


David Hare once said that the engine for all art is metaphor. It’s talking about one thing as a way of talking about something else.

Often it’s talking about something small to talk about something big. Like writing about a family feud as a way of talking about America falling apart.

Or you could talk about something big as a way of talking about something smaller. Like writing about an intergalactic war between mutants as a way of talking about fuck-knows.

The trick is giving the reader a job to do. Have them complete the communication circle: you spell it out so much and they make the mental leap.

In advertising theory there is something similar – a 90/10 rule. You spell out 90% of what you want they say and the reader infers the final 10% in their head.

Why do that? Because the thought you have yourself as a reader is more persuasive than the thought you are told. It’s how we make the reader think what we want them to think: ‘Smoking causes cancer’ is nowhere near as powerful as ‘Cancer cures smoking’.

But just how much can we make the reader work? 80/20? 70/30? 60/40? Is there a law of diminishing returns as you up the ante? Or do people love a crossword?

Let’s have a look. I’ve gathered some examples – that I think ‘work’ – that go as far as 50/50.




Conceptual image. Take-no-chances line. I’d say it’s a 90/10.


Again: a bit of work for the reader with the image, no work with the line. A DM piece from 2006. 90/10 I reckon.



From fat to fit. Simple. The ‘A’ and ‘I’ are clear, but maybe some people would need a second look. So 80/20.

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He so dominates the Tour de France they named the country after him. They show you a map spelling that out. But the copy is all in the image – your eye might search for a proper headline and not read the image on first lance (get it?). So 80/20.



No doubt this is portfolio work – not live work. But I’ve seen this kind of stuff win at D&AD so let’s keep the lie going. I give it 70/30 as after you ‘get’ the image you still have to ‘get’ the point of the ad. In your mind’s eye you almost have to see a strapline beside the logo of the sentiment ‘Explore your imagination’.



First one is ‘quicker’. You don’t cut corners with safety equipment. But while every parent wants the best for their kids, every parent also complains about how needlessly expensive kids’ stuff is. What’s that you said? That’s just a single poor execution? Shut up. 70/30.




They’re real. D&AD winners. Ran in UK newspapers. ‘So boring it’s intriguing’, ‘so plain they’re pretty’ seems to be the approach. It makes you work for the topic – and even the point – so it’s a 60/40 for me. But I think they get away with it.


Wolf in sheep’s clothing is clear. But what’s the claim exactly? The car looks like a family runaround but has some sporty features under the hood? Something like that? 60/40.



The thought is great: it’s so packed full of fish, and nothing but fish, fishermen would actually fish in a giant can of it. But a little slow for OOH (OOH D&AD winner in 2001). So I reckon it’s a 50/50 or thereabouts.


Jesus Christ. I Googled it. W=win. D=draw. Meaning L=loss. But there are no Ls when it comes to Arsenal. A firm 50/50. Then again, I call football soccer.

On Bullshit


If you’ve ever sat through a bad presentation by a researcher or planner. If you’ve ever had to listen to an investor update. Or an awful CEO speech. Or listen to a recruiter sell you a job. Or – Christ – read a group email that starts by apologising for the ‘All staffer’. Then you’ll love this.

Alan Sokal is a US-born physics professor at University College London. He once called ‘BULLSHIT!’ so loudly he had an affair named after him.

This is him.

Alan Sokal: Lady Killer

Alan Sokal: Lady Killer

And this is The Sokal Affair.

Like many before and after him in many different fields, he was worried that mediocre – or even incompetent – people in academia were hiding behind a language culture. The high priests of each discipline were claiming their jargon was no more than necessary specialist terminology. When it was actually a smokescreen hiding the fact that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes.

So, in 1996, he came up with a J’accuse-style plan.

He submitted a paper to Social Text, a prominent cultural studies journal. In his words he wanted to investigate whether: ‘a leading North American journal of cultural studies – whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross – would publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions’.

It was called ‘Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity’ and it declared that ‘it is becoming increasingly apparent that physical “reality” is fundamentally a social and linguistic construct.’

In case one might be tempted to argue that gravity is more that just a product of words, he added that science is ‘self-referential, it cannot assert a privileged epistemological status with respect to counterhegemonic narratives emanating from dissident or marginalized communities.’

Wonderful stuff.

But his next move was even better.

The same day that the issue of the journal containing his paper came out, he published another article in a magazine about life in academia pointing out that his Social Text paper was full to the brim with, well, we know what.

Have a read – it’s wonderful. And it applies to nearly every walk of life. As he concludes, ‘Why should self-indulgent nonsense…be lauded as the height of…achievement?’

How you tell ‘em

'Interesting. But my version is better, no?'

‘Interesting. But my version is better, no?’

If someone asked you to explain an idea, what would you say? The answer, of course, depends on who’s asking.

Here’s Steve Jobs, in an internal meeting, explaining how he came up with the ‘Think Different’ campaign. ‘We [Apple and their advertising agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day] started working about eight weeks ago. And the question we asked ourselves was: Who is Apple? And what is it we stand for? At the core…we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. We wanted to find a way to communicate this. And what we have is something that I am very moved by. It honours those people who have changed the world. The theme of the campaign is ‘Think Different’. It touches the soul of this company.’

But then there’s the version Rob Siltanen tells in his 2011 Forbes article. He was the Creative Director at TBWA/Chiat/Day and he credits one of his art directors, Craig Tanimoto, with coming up with the campaign. He briefed four teams and gave them five days to work. When they regrouped and pinned all their scamps up, ‘virtually all of it was mediocre. But there was one campaign that jumped out at me. I loved it. But at the same time, the work seemed in need of explanation.’

So he asked Tanimoto to explain his scamp. Tanimoto answered, ‘IBM has a campaign out that says “Think IBM” [for their ThinkPad], and I feel Apple is very different from IBM, so I felt “Think Different” was interesting. I then thought it would be cool to attach those words to some of the world’s most different-thinking people. The rainbow-colored logo served as stark contrast to the black and white photography, and, to me, it seemed to make the “Think Different” statement all the more bold.’

As we all know as creatives, there’s often a big gap between how you came up with an idea and how you sell the idea. And in the gap between the two, a lot of money is made – and reputations.

Pure and utter creativity


What is ‘creativity’ exactly? A quick swipe through book titles on Amazon will tell you that it is an art, a form of entrepreneurship, a way of living, a problem solving technique, an internal force to be ‘unleashed’, something with rules, something without rules, something standing in the way of ‘true’ inspiration, a way of tackling stress, a leadership model – any old bollox, really.

Which might explain the results of a survey conducted by I.B.M.’s Institute for Business Values, which asked 1,500 big wigs what they valued in their employees. And what would your average investment bank, say, or energy company be on the lookout for? You guessed it. The new number-one priority is ‘creativity’.

Which is a problem for those of who work in the creative industries. How do we standout from the creative plumbers and HR managers of the world? The answer – obvs – is new job titles. It’s time to unleash your inner David Shing and become the ‘prophet’, ‘guru’ or ‘messiah’ you were born to be.

Junior Copywriter Verbiage Manufacturer
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Junior Digital Designer Pixel Pixie
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Head of Art Eyestream Sage
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