Once a month, creatives in 80+ cities around the globe gather for free breakfast lectures in a series called CreativeMornings. Oakland’s CreativeMornings kicked off just last March. So far, the speakers have included Tony Calzaretta, Creative Director at Pandora; graffiti artist Francisco Sanchez; Nenna Joiner of Feelmore510; artist Favianna Rodriguez; and now Jeff Goodby, an influential advertising executive at Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

All cities’ CreativeMornings events organize around the same monthly theme. This month’s was minimalism. Who better, thought Oakland organizer Ivan Lima, to address minimalism than Jeff Goodby, the Oaklander behind the famous “Got Milk?” advertising campaign?

The packed event was held on Friday, June 27 at Pandora’s Webster St. headquarters. Refreshments were curated by Savor Oakland, and Bicycle Coffee provided the morning caffeine. Attendees were prompted to answer “What’s something you could do with less of?” on their name tags, which provided an icebreaker in the minutes before Ivan Lima took the stage, thanking event staff and sponsors and introducing Goodby.

Goodby has been in the advertising business for decades. He has lived in Oakland since the 80s, and just took on a pro bono project for his first Oakland client, Kaiser Permanente. With Goodby’s help, Kaiser will raise awareness about the benefits of parents speaking to their infants, a practice that’s vital for a child’s healthy brain development.

Goodby began his CreativeMornings talk by defining minimalism: “You take stuff away and make things mean more because you take stuff away.” He provided several examples: Yves Klein’s Blue, Philip Johnson’s Glass House, composer Béla Bartók’s Mikrokosmos, and a six-word novel attributed to Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Successful advertising is about finding something that gets people’s heads nodding, Goodby told the attendees. It’s about simplifying things until you get to the core of what is true. Through minimalism, “Got Milk?” conveys that milk is such a staple that nothing more need be said. Another example is “HP: Invent,” a makeover Goodby’s team gave to the slogan “Hewlett Packard: Expanding Possibilities.” “HP: Invent” isn’t just snappier, Goodby pointed out; it is also truer to what Hewlett Packard does.

Goodby shared an array of work he was was involved with. Despite being stylistically across the map, it was all based on simple, succinct ideas, suggesting that minimalism is the way to reach the broadest population. As a presenter, Goodby didn’t fill out a name tag, but when asked what he could do with less of, he answered: “cynicism.”

 

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