Public eye: Steve Diamond, 53, and Lu, 4

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

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13th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves

How old are you? You have to include my age, huh? I’m 53, but I’ve been advised to lie about it.

Think people are getting even more ageist these days? Yeah—I was just at dinner with an executive recruiter, and they have this thing about how much “runway” people have left. Apparently they don’t want people who fail to lift off and crash into the trees.

Sheesh. Yeah. And now Lu is telling me I should have told you she was three.

She couldn’t pass for three—look at those white whiskers. Is that Lou…as in Diamond Phillips? No, it’s Lu; she’s named after Louise Brooks, the silent-film star—the one who was famous for her bob—from certain angles Lu has the same bob.

What do you do? I’m an advertising creative director and I also teach photography at ICP.

So what makes a good ad? Well, a good ad gives a gift to the audience—like any good piece of art. It should teach, make you feel, or reveal something. And there needs to be a part that the audience completes for themselves. It’s like timing when you’re telling a punch line—it’s the pause that makes the joke funny. The pause gives the listener a chance to try and complete the puzzle. You make an assumption, and then if the actual answer is different, you go, Oh! Haha! Ads are the same.

Do you deal in all those Psych 101 theories about subconscious messaging in advertising? [Laughs] No. I mean, I’ve heard about how people respond to things. I guess we use it somewhat. For instance, it seems to be proven that female voices gain attention and male voices convey authority. On fighter jets they use a female voice to get the attention of the pilot, like, “Danger, you’re going to crash.” Apparently humans are programmed to—

Listen to their mom. And be afraid of their father.

And listen if the speaker has a British accent. There’s a joke about that: In advertising you either have to be really smart or British.

I think that applies outside of advertising, too. Yeah, we’re reverse prejudiced. Too bad the opposite isn’t true in England when you’re American.

More from Steve

“I’m teaching a master-class workshop in Bogotá, Colombia, at the end of the month.”


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