Bruno Bertelli: Lim­its are of­ten just an il­lu­sion

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Bruno Bertelli, Publi­cis World­wide Global Chief Cre­ative Of­fi­cer is one of the most awarded cre­atives in the world. His score of Cannes Lions won alone is well over fifty. His suc­cess mantra: ‘Al­ways, ex­pose your imag­i­na­tion to imag­i­na­tion.’

No Lim­its

Bruno Bertelli: ‘In the early nineties I moved to New York, hop­ing to be­come a screen­writer. I was de­ter­mined to make movies but luck­ily I met a pro­fes­sor at film school who told me to give it up and switch to ad­ver­tis­ing. He iden­ti­fied my abil­ity to tell sto­ries, but also spot­ted my weak­ness in struc­tur­ing ideas un­der the strict rules of cin­ema. ‘Ad­ver­tis­ing will for­give your lim­its. Hol­ly­wood won’t’, he said. Best ad­vice I ever got.

Tal­ent chooses you

‘He knew that my cre­ativ­ity be­longed in ad­ver­tis­ing. Truth is that it wasn’t easy to aban­don a 20-year dream. But I did it any­way. You see, the prob­lem with tal­ent is that you can’t choose it. It chooses you and the best thing you can do is go with it. So that’s what I’ve been do­ing. And the more you ex­pose your imag­i­na­tion to imag­i­na­tion, the more fer­tile it be­comes. Sto­ries, in all shapes and sizes stim­u­late the idea bank in your head. Once, about 10 years ago, my abil­ity to tell sto­ries got me out of a re­ally sticky sit­u­a­tion. I had just ar­rived in Ser­bia to shoot a TVC. But it turned out I had lost my pass­port, so they took me to prison. There, I told sto­ries to the other prison­ers. They found me en­ter­tain­ing enough to not give me any prob­lems. Now I can laugh about it, but I was pretty wor­ried at the time, as you can imag­ine.

In­spi­ra­tion

‘When it comes to telling sto­ries, F. Scott Fitzger­ald taught me a lot. I of­ten re­late to the doomed, ide­al­ist pro­tag­o­nist he por­trays. Fitzger­ald sur­faces the com­plex lay­ers of those char­ac­ters: the con­fu­sion of the glam­our, beauty and value of ap­pear­ance with the ug­li­ness and cor­rup­tion of how things ac­tu­ally are. It’s a play­ground for the mind. Michael Jor­dan is a big in­spi­ra­tion too. He taught me to en­joy things and play every sin­gle game with all the heart and pas­sion that’s in me. ‘Lim­its, like fears, are of­ten just an il­lu­sion’, he once said. That should be the mantra to ev­ery­body who wants a ca­reer and a good life. I can tell you that from my own ex­pe­ri­ence, you won’t make it in this or any busi­ness if you al­low your doubts to limit your po­ten­tial. Just make sure you don’t un­der- or over-think things. This quote from Apoca­lypse Now de­scribes it per­fectly: ‘I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight ra­zor. That’s my dream. That’s my night­mare. Crawl­ing, slith­er­ing, along the edge of a straight... ra­zor... and sur­viv­ing.’ That’s how frag­ile the mix of cre­ativ­ity and ra­tio­nale is.

Magic

All in all, I live for cre­ativ­ity. I live for that mo­ment when I’m watch­ing cre­atives present their ideas and I’m not feel­ing it. Noth­ing, good, here... but then, just when I start think­ing we’re screwed, magic hap­pens. Some­one says one thing and we all know that it’s THAT thing we need. That beau­ti­ful, elu­sive mo­ment makes up for all the shit we need to put up with. It’s my fuel. Cre­ativ­ity in­fuses fun into the uni­verse. Imag­ine life without Jag­ger or Fellini or Brando or Bern­bach. Ter­ri­ble. I guess cre­ativ­ity is what makes hu­man­ity bear­able.

Without cre­ativ­ity, I would prob­a­bly sleep more and have a head full of hair, but it sounds bloody bor­ing.’

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30 BRUNO BERTELLI

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