On May 11, 2009, in a fit of social media experimentation, the message “I’ve yet to hire a writer who uses ellipses in an ad.” echoed across the Twitterverse to approximately five followers. Three years later, the Twitter account @leeclowsbeard had grown to 27,000 followers with over 775 daily tweets served (current stats: 42k followers and 2,500 tweets), including these:
A few months into LCB’s existence, Rob Schwartz started following. Rob was the Chief Creative Officer at TBWA\Chiat\Day’s L.A. office (he is now the CEO on their NYC outpost). Rob was someone who worked with Lee Clow on a daily basis, and who obviously knew that LCB was not authored by Lee. Not wanting to open a can of cease-and-desist orders, I refrained from harassment for several months. When I finally inquired as to Lee’s knowledge of LCB, Rob confirmed that The Great and Mighty Clow was aware of my existence, and that he approved of my hijinks. Eventually, they flew me out to L.A. for a day and lunch (and this photo) ensued:
It was during this lunch that the idea of a book emerged. Within hours after the lunch, Rob had designer Bill Hornstein busting out comps. Then the joy of book publishing really took hold. Tracking down and securing photo rights. Finding a publisher. And a printer. Fortunately, I did not have to do this work, and I am forever grateful to those who did.
At long last, an advance copy arrived at my door and, a few weeks later, the book offically launched at an event at the Chiat offices in L.A. Here are a few snaps of the book and interior spreads:
The book being the analog derivative of a digital source, we obviously decided on a digital derivative of the book in the form of an iOS app:
Naturally, TBWA\ authored a website
based on their Projeqt presentation technology:
And Bill and I turned out some posters promoting the book and the app:
Response to the work was very positive, with articles on Mashable.com
among others. Additionally, revealing the truth of LCB’s provenance did not hinder follower growth one bit. In fact, the account gained followers at a rate 500% the norm in the week following the launch.
Even TBWA’s global chairman Jean-Marie Dru was given to quoting the Beard:
In 2018, in honor of Chiat\Day’s 50th anniversary, the agency named Lee Clow’s Beard as one of the 50 most memorable moments in their five-decade history. The following was written by me at their request and published by TBWA\Chiat\Day\LA in November 2018.