Special Report : Brian Harrod: ‘I don’t actually know if Brian has eyes…’

.B9Jim SatterthwaiteThe Other Side of BrianThis is an extremely important issue of Strategy.Quite a number of busy people have taken considerable time to write wonderful things about our hero, Brian Harrod.But, there are two sides to just about everyone, Mr. Harrod...


Jim Satterthwaite

The Other Side of Brian

This is an extremely important issue of Strategy.

Quite a number of busy people have taken considerable time to write wonderful things about our hero, Brian Harrod.

But, there are two sides to just about everyone, Mr. Harrod included, and I think the high standards of journalistic integrity characterized so well by this publication and its editor require that someone step forward and reveal the other side of Brian.

I am prepared to meet this responsibility, and reveal some little-known Harrod warts.

‘Never trust a man who can’t look you in the eye.’

How can I trust Brian Harrod?

I don’t actually know if Brian has eyes, let alone what color they might be. Or, whether they exude that sense of honesty, trust, integrity and commitment so many clients look for in people to whom they entrust their multimillion-dollar budgets.

I don’t know this about Brian because in all the years I worked with him at McCann, he never ever looked at me.

I can’t tell you how many times I popped into his office to have a chat.

He was always looking down, and never moved anything except his hands. He was always doing layouts. He would do one that looked great to me, then he’d rip it off the pad, throw it away and start again.

He did this endlessly, all day long during lunch, client meetings, you name it. Non-stop layouts from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

His eyes always stayed on the pad. No glancing left or right. No quick, friendly glance to the visitor. Just good old ‘eyes down’ and keep at it.

I guess Brian must have good hearing. Because he can’t possibly recognize people by their face, it’s the voice that he must use to know who they are. It’s quite a clever skill, really, when you stop and think about it.

I suspect that over the years he has refined this technique and is now capable of extrasensory auditory perception, in which the sound effects which accompany an individual (such as footsteps, breathing, burping style, etc.) help him quickly pin down who he’s talking to without actually looking.

It’s no wonder that Brian is also an amazing bingo player who regularly plays 24 cards simultaneously.

It’s a side benefit, I guess.

‘Affectation in speech is a certain sign of deep-rooted insecurity.’

Brian is actually a lively and interesting conversationalist, but his ethnic background sometimes makes it troublesome to know what he actually said.

But, because he’s a likeable chap, we all nod or laugh appropriately anyway. The trouble is that he speaks with an accent which is sourced from somewhere between Eton and Zimbabwe.

He delivers his words in a somewhat lyrical style that sort of goes up and down. I’m not an expert on this stuff, but I suspect it is tribal in origin, having a rather chant-like quality.

Just like his eyes, his lips don’t move either, even when he speaks.

I guess his tongue must be moving around one hell of a lot in there, but this is something I cannot really vouch for, and I am trying hard to be completely accurate in what I write.

I hope this special issue of Strategy helps Brian come to terms with himself. You don’t have to talk funny to be noticed, Brian.

‘Gluttenous greed for recognition.’

How many awards can one person really want? What can his basement look like? I hope he’s not a 10-pin bowler because, if he is, you probably can’t get in the house.

Who polishes them up, Brian? It can’t be you because you’re always doing layouts.

The pieces of this complicated psychological puzzle fit together all too well.

No eye contact, affected speech and an insatiable appetite for global recognition come together neatly into a human package we know as Brian Harrod.

P.S. It’s probably worth noting that Brian has been, is, and, for a long time to come, will be one of the world’s most renowned art directors.

This creativity is evident in all of his work, which, while it has a style that can only be his, is always fresh, different and innovative.

It’s also worth noting that he is one of the hardest working, most productive people in the business.

He does the work of five ‘normal’ art directors, and always at a level that most aspire to, but never reach.

One more thing…he’s a gentleman, too.

He shows respect to everyone he works with, even the folks in accounting. Even account guys who pop in for a chat.