Advertising Lessons From The Rolling Stones

Keith Richards is one of history’s most riotous rockers. Having amassed monumental success spanning five decades by staying true to himself and his art, there are (of course) a few pearls of wisdom we can glean as an agency.

Keith may be idolised by many, but he wouldn’t be held in such high regard had it not been for the people surrounding him. Without the attorneys and lawyers who watched over him, he would have served lengthy periods behind bars. Had it not been for Mick’s lyrics, voice and panache, surely the Stones wouldn’t have become what they did indeed become.

Great teams need maintaining to thrive and grow. With all the different departments that make up an agency, we are bound to have contrasting views and opinions (much like Keith and Mick). But a strong team accepts these differences, occasionally flaws, for the sake of being successful. However, when we do experience success, it is imperative that we learn to share the credit. Keith has always been vocally grateful to those who surround him, and by sharing the credit, we motivate each other to go further together, united.

Keith also teaches us the sheer importance of hard work. He may have inspired the phrase “elegantly wasted,” but that would be irrelevant without the skills and effort to match. For 50 years, Keith has forged his path as a blues player and songwriter through hard work and practise. He teaches us to focus on the craft, putting all the time and effort we can muster into producing great work and ideas. If we can achieve this, if we can move people with our vision, our ideas and with what we deliver to our clients, we will begin to earn such an exalted status.

We also must learn to be ready for inspiration. Almost everyone would recognize the introductory riff to “Satisfaction,” yet it oh-so-nearly never existed. This inspiration came to Keith whilst he was asleep. He woke up, recorded it and went back to sleep, and it went on to be one of the most successful Rolling Stones songs. Inspiration can happen anywhere, at any time. The challenge is being ready to receive it, and then applying the discipline and hard work to turn it into a reality.

Keith Richards spent a decade atop the “Most Likely to Die” list, yet he is still very much alive. And at 69, he is a sight more lively than most his age. Surely a man of these credentials can pass on a few tips on how to “live long and prosper.” That is, after all, exactly what our clients want for their brands. Obstacles are inevitable, and Keith has faced many that could have easily ended his career (not to mention his life). But with a wry smile and an abundance of faith in himself, he made it through and continues to do so.

So how do we ensure our brands and clients survive our downs as well as the ups? It’s simple: We work hard, play to our strengths and believe in ourselves. We are in this for the long haul, so we had better put some faith in it no matter where it takes us.

It’s good to be here; it’s good to be anywhere.” – Keith Richards

Toby Castle-Smith is an account executive at gyro London.