Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Adman, Writer John "Jack" Davis Made Words Count

My mom and I used to play a game "Ik zie, ik zie, wat jij niet ziet" or "I see what you don't see". 
Note that the verb is "don't" not "can't". In other words, it's not about what you can't see, but what you miss seeing. 
The clever ad for the (blue) Skoda (in the picture) makes use of the same principle. 

Admen and women sell products, and sometimes they sell more than that; the best among them sell ideas that are LIFE-CHANGING and sometimes a gift of life, or at least enhanced quality of life. 

The following letter from Mary Welborn, the widow of Gary's stepdad, our dear friend John "Jack" Davis, about her late husband and colleague runs that idea home. 

Please let me, Mary Welborn, share with you a moment to reflect on the passing of my husband, John (Jack) Freeman Davis.

There are few people born with the power to string together just the right words that set into motion the energy to overcome problems. John was one of those rare guys.

Words helped create the demand for a Magnet School Program that was so successful that temporary buildings had to be moved onsite to accomodate the massive student overflow coming into the inner city from the suburbs.
Those words, written by John Davis.
In my opinion, his finest hour was when he created the words that saved countless numbers of children's lives. There is much work to be done.

The words, "Nobody's going to shoot Southwest Airlines out of the sky for a lousy $13" set into motion the power to overcome Braniff crushing Southwest Airlines.
The words, "The best education money can't buy" set into motion the power to overcome complex issues in the '80's' with student bussing in Houston.
There are many more examples where John's writing saved companies from going out of business by creating increased demand for countless products and services.
Words yelled in fear, panic and anger in the echoing lobby of M.D. Anderson's Medical Center: "I don't know who to see or what I have to do, but I'm not leaving this damn place 'till my Granddaughter, John Henry Freeman's Great Granddaughter, gets the medicine she needs! He built this damn place and surely I can get the medicine that she has to have!"

Those words by John Davis set into motion the rushed FDA approval of a drug that continues to save countless number of children's lives. A deadly fungal infection on the liver of Childhood Leukemia patients was killing them while they sat waiting for this medicine to be approved.

John, you are one of the good guys with the rare power of persuasion. Mostly, you taught us that words matter. Resting in peace is not your style, may your spirit continue to kick-ass and take names! We won't have to miss you. Now, you are everywhere.
If anyone feels compelled to make a donation in memory of John (Jack) Freeman Davis, M.D. Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital Pediatric Center would be happy to accept donations. You can even make them online.
Thank you, God bless us all with the same power of persuasion. 
Amen to that Mary. I've got nothing to add to that. 
Although, if you came this far, you deserve to take the Nokia observation test. 

Note that Jack's grandfather John H. Freeman, the one mentioned in Mary's letter, appears in the second paragraph of this linked article. And note that it was Jordan Howell's sister Michelle who was in need of the medicine. 

If there's any message in this post, it's that we don't need to be in advertising to make our words count. 

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License