Bill Marceau, creative director and art director, and Bill Bayne,Creative director and writer, are affectionately called and occasionally cursed as “The Bills.” They’ve been partners for a year and a half and work primarily on Southwest Airlines, Austin City Limits and GSD&M’s branding efforts for SXSW.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
BAYNE: I’m from Tennessee. In fact, so are the majority of my relatives. We’re members of “The First Families of Tennessee,” which means my family has been living there before statehood. That was in 1796. My dad and granddad were both newspaper reporters, and my mom was a high school librarian. So I’ve always been surrounded by words. A large part of my love of writing was inherited. My dad was constantly cranking out great stories under extreme deadlines. Living under his roof, watching him write under a lot of pressure helped me get ready for advertising.
MARCEAU: Texas grown. On the business end of being creative since 1997. Been the guy that makes the first pot of coffee ever since. Father of two. Atypically inclined. I could tell you more, but I’d rather play it for you.
What do you do for inspiration?
MARCEAU: By tasting, seeing, touching or hearing something I never have before. Our most valuable asset to communicating is the ability to combine experiences that reach out and connect with people in ways they don’t expect. I feel the more you live, the more unique and powerful those connections can be.
How do you relax or unwind?
BAYNE: Spending time with my family helps me unwind. I have a lovely wife and two young hillbilly sons, six and three. Our boys are very active. Teaching them how to throw a tight spiral or throw punches helps me forget about ads for a little while. And if you live in Austin, it’s sort of a prerequisite to be in a band. I play guitar, write songs and sing in The Cold Irons. We’re a classic country/modern rock group.
MARCEAU: I imagine I’m standing in front of a chalkboard that’s 100 yards long (give or take), eraser in hand. The board is completely covered with numbers and equations. I just start erasing. Then I erase some more. Then I keep erasing. It’s the only thing I’ve found that helps me stop in a space that is in between thoughts. I prefer to enter this space in close proximity to a stemless glass of wine. Ideally something from the Australian continent.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
BAYNE: Coming up with ideas. Sitting in a room with Bill and just letting concepts and notions flow. It’s magic to me. I get a huge buzz off of creating something from nothing. It’s akin to creating your own energy source. I try to remind myself of that when I’m feeling fatigued, keep pushing and keep grinding because you can create your own spark that can lead to something great.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
BAYNE: For its 40th anniversary, Southwest Airlines wanted to do something for all of its Facebook friends and all the people who follow them on Twitter. So we helped create their first-ever, cross-country, one-day tour with Motopony, a Seattle-based band. The band played in four cities and then jumped on planes and performed for Southwest passengers and employees in the sky. People were able to stream the concerts on Facebook, and while it was rooted in the digital space, it had this tangible facet as well and was very successful.
MARCEAU: Forty-two hours. It was a Spyder Skiwear print project. It was my third year in the business, and I had something to prove to the voice in my head. At the end of it all, it was worth the 42 hours. Archive agreed. I hope I never learn to stop listening to that voice.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
BAYNE: The day I decided to go to Portfolio Center in Atlanta was pretty important. It opened a new world of possibility. I was surrounded by talented classmates and instructors who pushed me to be a better writer and a smarter thinker. And I was pretty free-spirited as a young man, so the day my dad sort of sat me down and said, “Bill, set some goals,” really resonated with me and helped me more than almost anything. I know it seems simple, but having goals and achieving them is a great way to keep pushing yourself forward. Thanks, Dad. Mom, too.
What software could you not live without?
BAYNE: For me it’s Spotify. I’m a music nerd, and the power of Spotify knocks me out. I love the social aspect of it as well. I don’t have to call my friends to ask them what new stuff they’ve been listening to — it just appears on Facebook.
MARCEAU: My secret weapon is After Effects. The ability to cheaply and quickly put together something a client can watch, listen and feel is far more effective than asking them to buy off on something that requires them to make up scenes in their heads when reading a script.
Who is your target audience?
MARCEAU: Carbon-based life forms...for now.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
BAYNE: We work on Southwest Airlines. They are the lone voice of reason in the airline industry; they don’t charge you to bring a bag on board the plane. They don’t charge the unreasonable fees the other guys charge. People love what Southwest offers, so it’s very easy to work with and for them.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
BAYNE: One of my old partners at Rubin Postaer Nathan Crow and I used to teach at BookShop in Los Angeles. We would always try to come up with new ways to inspire our students. And we came across all of these great lessons from significant thinkers who hate advertising but whose words and ideas could really benefit young advertising students: George Orwell, Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan. We thought there was interesting tension between learning how to be creative in advertising from guys who absolutely abhor the business. We talked about collecting those and writing a book. Stay tuned.
MARCEAU: Before I touched an iPad, my answer would have been “no.” But after experiencing The Numberlys, while I would still say I have no plans to write a book, I would very much like to direct one.
Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?
MARCEAU: I enjoy building, taking apart, fixing or otherwise using my hands more than my brain when outside the office. I grew up with a father who could make and fix anything. My work ethic is the direct result. In our industry, once you start thinking things are getting easy is exactly the moment you start doing it wrong.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
MARCEAU: I think in 10 years, the notion of sitting at a computer, navigating the internet with a mouse and keyboard will be a funny-looking thing. The internet will cease becoming a destination and instead be a fully integrated part of life.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
MARCEAU: Time machine. Date set to 1991. It’s a long story.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
BAYNE: It helps that my partner, Bill, is one of the smartest guys in the building. He does a great job of keeping me and the entire agency in the loop. He produces a 30-minute screening called RECON, a monthly mental and visual exfoliation featuring the best and most interesting work from around the world. And earlier this year, I attended Boulder Digital Works where I ended up meeting a bunch of brilliant people, and I continue to correspond with them. It’s easier than it’s ever been to be smarter. You just have to do your homework.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
BAYNE: My dream project is a documentary film on the folk artist, Lamar Sorento. He’s from my hometown of Memphis, and I’ve been working on it with my brother for a couple of years. I hope we can finish it in 2012.
MARCEAU: Actually, it was working for BMW. Cars have been a fascination of mine for as long as I can remember. At first I was drawn to the Italian makes, which at my price-point meant it was all about the lines and curves, not so much about what was under the hood. It wasn’t until I owned my first BMW (1972 3.0CS coupe) that I understood the union of man and machine. In the five years it took me to rebuild that car, I gleaned a deep appreciation for the notion of “everything matters.” From the placement of the rear fog light to the symphony that is a properly tuned straight-six engine. And everything in between.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
BAYNE: I just bought the new Wilco record, The Whole Love, on vinyl — 180-gram vinyl ain’t cheap.
MARCEAU: Billy Reid Moto boots. I’ll be passing them down to my grandson.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
BAYNE: Red Wing boots, a pair of Dickies and a concert T-shirt are my go-to de rigueur.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
BAYNE: “Enthusiasm is everything; criticism is nothing.” Peter Case
MARCEAU: NEVER ARRIVE.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
BAYNE: Thank you. This has been a blast.
MARCEAU: What Bill said.