The DNA of a company can start in very unusual places. Here’s why the classroom assignment style of management that my partner Sal created is what makes DeVito/Verdi so unique.

Students were briefed simply and quickly and in-person—encouraged to return after a week with their best idea. The idea was put on a wall for all to see and comment—only the best stayed up (some bad ones were burnt and others thrown out of the window so “Grey advertising can pick them up”–to demonstrate how creators have to get rid of bad/mediocre to get to great). Inevitably very few if any were left after the class reviewed them all.Rough scrutiny, hyper-realistic but important if you think about how challenging effective advertising is to create.

The best students from those classes were chosen to work at the agency. And many are still here or went on to become creative directors at other shops. Now we still look at the simple challenge a client needs to overcome and give it to all of our creative people in a competitive format (just like the classroom). This process is still the basis for some of the best work in the business. Everyone pulls for a winner despite the competition and the breadth of ideas shown is significant.

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