From an open letter he wrote to the owners of Grey Group advertising back in 1947, just after he’d be promoted to Creative Director:

There are a lot of great technicians in advertising. And unfortunately they talk the best game. They know all the rules. They can tell you that people in an ad will get you greater readership. They can tell you that a sentence should be this short or that long. They can tell you that body copy should be broken up for easier reading. They can give you fact after fact after fact. They are the scientists of advertising. But there’s one little rub. Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.

It’s that creative spark that I’m so jealous of for our agency and that I am so desperately fearful of losing. I don’t want academicians. I don’t want scientists. I don’t want people who do the right things. I want people who do inspiring things.

So great. Sixty seven years later and this is perhaps even more true.

How many blog post have you seen in the past 90 minutes that were something along the lines of: “10 Surefire Ways to Write Killer Content That Will Blow Your Readers’ Minds and Have Them Asking for More!”? Ugh. There is no formula, no rule, for honest art. Rules and guidelines can take something good and make it great, but they can’t breath life into something that’s lifeless.

Art is fundamentally relational. And relationships are not a science. Only you know what your readership is interested, and only you know what topics you can chose to write about with mustard.

(Via Chase Reeves, of course.)

Bill Bernbach on Technique, Substance, and What Makes Advertising Great