W+K, for all its success, is a fairly private organization. Tonight, though, in line with First Thursday, they'll open their doors to show a giant mural -- comprised of 150,000 thumbtacks -- that spell out in very neat script:
Too bad you can't see it online. Even in a print photo, it looks cool.
The WK 12 program is an intensive, in-house "school" that puts a diverse group through 13 months of hard learnin' about the ad business. They come out the other end having worked on some of the most creative and demanding advertising accounts in the world, handled by one of the most forward-thinking and innovative agencies known. As put by the WK 12 business director, Elena Cartasegna, "We refer to WK 12 as an exeriment disguised as a school disguised as an agency." Whatever. You mix it all up and you get learning, new energy and ideas, a combination that's bound to produce something of value.
Why "Fail Harder"? Because Dan Wieden thinks before you succeed, you must fail. Failure is welcomed, embraced and dissected for productive lessons. Ain't nothing wrong with failure there -- it's not a penalty so much as a necessary part of life.
The idea behind tonight's mural is that if you're gonna fail, fail hard. Don't play games. Get out there and hammer -- if you fail, big deal. Try again. It'll work if you keep at it.
It's absolutely right, of course. And far be it for me to suggest an amendment to a principle that's made W+K probably the best ad shop in the world, but I would say that failing smart might be even better. Meaning what? Meaning you can flail away at nothing and fail easily enough, but if you have a good idea, a hypothesis, a hoped for outcome -- and you still fail -- you're in a better position to build toward success.
The grads have put in an claim to the Guiness folks for the "most thumbtacks on a wall" record. Nice punctuation mark to their work.