Tom McConnaughy and I met in Pittsburgh when he was an art director/creative director at Ketchum. He always looked over the horizon. We were sympathetic, although we didn’t work together that much. He preferred Bob Giraldi and Joe Sedelmeier and I couldn’t disagree (at that time).
He and I had a mutual interest in illustration. Tom could draw better than most and his indications could set the tone for the work, something rare. We both loved Jack Davis, the illustrator, and Tom used Davis for an ad but when I saw Davis’ work, I told Tom that his work was better.
Tom was always ahead of the curve and showed me Ridley Scott’s work, possibly to irritate me or put me in my place. Scott’s work was far ahead of anyone’s at that time (the early 70’s) and made me see that there was a huge potential in commercials that wasn’t being met in the US of A. Ridley’s visualization was far superior to just about anyone’s. No, it WAS superior to anyones’ until I saw his brother’s work. Go figure.
Tom moved to greener pastures in Chicago and we did some stuff together, a lot for RC Cola. He introduced me to Dave Lamb and I think he introduced me to Hal Riney, and that led to successes with Anheuser Busch and Bartles and Jaymes.
Tom started his own agency and we drifted apart. He claimed I became too expensive, but I think he just didn’t want to put up with my bullshit.
As I learned about the history of advertising, Tom became more like the legendary Bill Bernbach, with his knowledge and interest in architecture, design, music, film. Bernbach blended those art forms into his work as did Tom. Tom had huge interest in great design and he also had an arch sense of humor and ‘discovered’ Joe Sedelmeier before Sedelmeier became Sedelmeier.
Tom formed his own agency, played by his own rules, and was a success. He sold the agency and is now living happily ever after.
(The silly question mark after his ‘M’ has to do with the purposeful mispronunciation of his name by a somewhat pretentious director. Tom never worked with him again.)