Paul Arden moved on, creative leader succumbs to a heart attack.

Sad news today as Paul Arden moved to greener pastures at 67.

Mr. Arden was such a perfectionist that he was often maddeningly over budget, insisting that the smallest details be perfect, such as searching for a certain pair of wildly expensive spectacles to achieve just the right look on a face that would be seen briefly in passing in a TV spot.

Have you heard about Paul Arden not playing football because "the colour of the grass isn't the right green."Would that be true, Paul? Paul: - "I like the quote. Put it in."
Paul Arden as drawn by his missus, Toni Arden.

He was the Saatchi perfectionist, father of the Silk Cut campaign, and in 1993 started a film production company, Arden Sutherland Dodd, as well as collecting photography. Back in 1993 I had the pleasure of being one of his pupils at the School of Communication Arts. You might never know what he was thinking but you could bet on it being brilliant. I can promise you all that we'll never see a man like Paul in advertising again, and we are all the poorer for it.

Paul Arden wrote several books in the past years, most recently Paul Arden on God,
Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite and here are some of my notes from Paul Arden's Lecture at the D&AD back in 1993, his book It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be has even been translated to Swedish.

L.A: What would you write on your tombstone'
P. Arden: Knife. (It takes him 10 minutes to sharpen his pencil.)

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caffeinegoddess's picture

Sadness. :(

Dabitch's picture

Since Leslie just gave me a pat on the back for telling this on adlist, and they keep nagging me to post it, I'magonnacave.

He could have died in 1993. Oh yeah. I had shown him at school my portfolio-as-it-was-evolving over the year and now it was the "end show" with wine and tables of hopeful students and hordes of cynical ad-people mulling about the free wine bar... and he came and sat at my table as one of the early victims to look at my work. He kept giggling leaning closer (he had a habit of kinda half-laughing like "hehehe" all the time) and whispering to me "I hate these things. Don't you hate these things? I hate these things. Hehehehe." and I kinda stuttered "uh yah uh" 'cuz I had such a hard time not being utterly in awe/thirteen year old shy every time he addressed me. So I cleared my throat and started showing him my work and come to the "Atomic Fireballs" campaign and told him to open the double page spread I had prepared. He did. The double page spread exploded.

No, I'm serious, like exploded as in *BANG*!!!!! - it was a small "firework" stuck to the
pages (what do you call those? Smaller than cherry bombs? So the idea is just a packshot - the bang, and the line "share them with your enemies" ) - Paul JUMPS back so fast that he pulls down the TV and VCR on the table so that they crash to the floor with even louder bangs, drops the chair on the floor, and the whole room goes momentarily silent apart from the ice still moving in peoples drinks. He's clutching his heart and gasping for air all dramatic.. All I can think is: "OMG! I killed Paul Arden!" After what seems like forever he begins to stutter, and I switch to thinking "OMG! Paul Arden is gonna kill me!" .. But he says in an agitated tone: "That... THAT is... That is a BRILLIANT idea that."

Anonymous Adgrunt's picture

Fantastic story. Thank you for sharing.

Dabitch's picture
Dabitch's picture
alex's picture

Brilliant guy. Too young to go. Great story about the firework though.

adlib's picture

Brilliant and difficult. But no irritant, no pearl.

Neaner's picture

Paul was a great talent, and you are right that we are all the poorer for it. Very difficult to work with at times, but like he said "Do you want to be nice or do you want to be great?"

andromeda's picture

I never worked with Paul Arden but his body of work had a major impact on me. You are so right, advertising will never see a man like him again.