Damon Stapleton: Be a Geoff and try a little tenderness.

Damon Stapleton: Be a Geoff and try a little tenderness.

A blog by Damon Stapleton, chief creative officer, The Monkeys New Zealand.


Got on a lucky one. Came in eighteen to one. I’ve got a feeling. This year’s for me and you.

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues

We are on the home stretch. Christmas approaches like a cheerful, glistening tsunami. At one of my old agencies, the creative department used to call it Black December. We were all tired and perhaps a little more cynical than usual after doing a Christmas campaign that had 6000 elements that may or may not make any sense. Add to that, family commitments and everything else going on, and it can be as bleak as being the only person on the dance floor at your own New Years Eve party.

I mention this because I would like to do a little experiment that may get me thrown out of the secret creative cynical society. Which of course doesn’t exist. Or, does it?

Let me explain. A couple of weeks ago a creative called Geoff Fischer passed away. His passing was noted on Campaign Brief. I didn’t know him but I found myself reading the article and learning about all the cool and interesting things he did in his career. He sounded like a great person but it was all facts. I found myself wondering what he was like. Really like. You know, what was he like on a Tuesday morning in the creative department after learning the agency had lost a big pitch? Then I got to the comments section.

There was one comment that told me everything I needed to know.

“People had Geoff to tell them how great they are. Love and miss that man.”

I instantly knew Geoff. I had never met him, but I knew him. He was the person who picked up the other creatives on a bad Tuesday morning.

He was the person who gave confidence to other creatives. That is a skill that is enormously underestimated. It is one of the main secrets for creative success. Without confidence, it is very hard to put yourself out there. If you have ever had your work bombed and had to re-present the next day, you know what I am talking about.

If you are lucky, in your career, you will have a person like this. Somebody who will tell you that you are fantastic. They will tell you to keep trusting in what you are doing. Somebody who will pick you up and worry about how you are doing more than their own career. In short, they are a creative who cares about other creatives. I certainly have had people like that in my career. I had a director called Oscar – a piano-playing, chess-winning, all-round lovely human – tell me early in my career I could do great things. Nobody had ever said that to me. He has no idea the difference those words made to me. Until now, I guess. Merry Xmas, Oscar.

So, I guess Oscar was my Geoff. If we are lucky, we all know a Geoff. Be that creative. Those words can change a career and banish the doubts. And we all have doubts, right?

So, in honour of somebody I have never met and because it’s almost Christmas, here is my Christmas experiment. Tell somebody you work with that they are great. I know, I know. It goes against the creative code of cynicism. It is something that isn’t done in an agency. We create emotion but try not to show it. Do it. I don’t care how. Hide it in a story or a joke if that makes you feel better. But say it. Don’t think it. Say it.

You never know the difference your words could make.

Merry Xmas.