Passion, enthusiasm and belief in your work has to be admired. And Leith Agency creative director Gerry Farrell has that in bucketloads.
And so he should. Farrell is Scotland’s top ad man, a kilted Don Draper for the 21st century. He has not only helped some of our leading brands shift huge volumes of stock, but he has worked closely with public agencies on a number of successful behaviour change campaigns. Drugs, knife crime, smoking, cancer detection; in short, we have a lot to thank him for.
So, put yourself in his position when current and former councillors – many of whom have little understanding of advertising – began to publicly criticise the Incredinburgh campaign for the Capital.
With a CV like Farrell’s you might wonder exactly when Jenny Dawe’s knowledge of marketing surpassed his.
Farrell was right to defend his work robustly. But he completely crossed the line when he started “turd-slinging” himself at Steve Cardownie, deputy leader of Edinburgh City Council, and a known critic of the Incredinburgh idea.
Whether you love or hate the Incredinburgh campaign (and many do love it) he took the wrong path on this issue.
He made the defence of his work personal. He began to attack his own paymasters and clients, labelling Cardownie Hissing Steve.
And then, to cap it all, he effectively challenged the councillor to a fight, saying “any time, any place, any pub”.
Farrell’s ego overtook the needs of the business and professionalism went out of the window.
The Leith Agency, part of the Cello Group, had no choice but to suspend him.
Can Farrell now eat humble pie and apologise? For his sake, for the agency, and for Scottish advertising, let’s hope so. We need geniuses like Gerry Farrell.