To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact

Arts & Entertainment

Goodby’s Rules for Creative Vandalism

Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein

Lesson time 7:05 min

Advertising is like vandalism, says Jeff. He shares his rules for creative vandalism, including: don’t copy, steal; run toward fire; and seek out fame.

Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein
Teach Advertising and Creativity
Advertising icons Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein teach you how to break rules, change minds, and create the best work of your life.
Get Started


[MUSIC PLAYING] - A while back, I had a speech to make. And I wanted to do something that was interesting to people, you know, that were just coming into the business, and created a certain expectation. I thought back to when I was a kid. And me and my friend Alec would, like, smash pumpkins and throw eggs at Mr. Mastretta's house that was a white house at night. And we loved the feeling of going out, and seeing it there the next day. Like, you know, look at that. We smashed the crap out of that pumpkin all over the guy's front porch, you know? It was, like, awesome to see it the next day. And I thought, that's kind of what advertising is, you know? You should be that excited about doing it. It should feel kind of naughty and, like, it's the middle of the night, and you're doing this thing, and it's going to be unleashed on the world tomorrow. And you should look forward to that moment when it's unleashed, you know? So in that sense, advertising is like vandalism. It's, like, loud, in your face, and it's still there the next day. That's why it's like vandalism. When I talk about vandalism, I talk about how there are rules for vandalism and rules for creativity. And of course, there are not really rules for creativity. But here are the rules. [MUSIC PLAYING] Number one is don't copy. Steal. OK, what does that mean? It actually comes from Picasso, I think, who said, amateurs copy, artists steal. So be aware of things around you. I mean, one day, Dan Wieden told me the story-- and I think it's been published-- about how "just do it" came about. And he said, you know, I'm just racking my brain for a tagline for Nike. And one day, I'm reading this story about this guy, Gary Gilmore, in Utah, who's a murderer. And he's about to be given the electric chair. And they ask him if he has any last words. And he says, just do it. And I went, damn, that would be a good tagline. So sometimes, the thing is just lying there. And you have to, like, notice that it's there. That's stealing. But you know, you'll get credit for it in the end. [MUSIC PLAYING] Number two, part of your job is not to do your job. So I'm so old that I actually met David Ogilvy on a couple of occasions, a famous advertising guy. He came to the office, and I was just, like, a little cub copywriter. And he was sitting all by himself in this room, in this office that they'd given him. And everybody was afraid to talk to him. So I'd been a reporter. Like, I'll talk to anybody. So I went in there. And I said, hi, Mr. Ogilvy. I'm a young copywriter here. And he said, do you have any cigarettes? And I said, oh, I'll get some. So I ran out, got cigarettes, came back, gave him cigarettes. And he smoked a couple of cigarettes while we talked. I actually saved one of those cigarette butts and had it on my wall for-- it said, you know, cigarette actually smoked by David Ogilvy, and it had the date. Anyway, so I had that in my office as inspiration for a l...

Create the big ideas of tomorrow

As the minds behind the “got milk?” campaign, the Budweiser lizards, and countless other ads that have permeated pop culture, Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein never stop reimagining the possibilities of advertising. Now they’re sharing how they make the beautiful and edgy work that’s seen by millions. Learn how to come up with great ideas, tell funny and compelling stories, and dazzle at your next pitch or presentation.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Helped me think about how to manage my agency.

I learned that some of the most memorable ads from my childhood were made by these guys. Bravo.

It is definitely inspirational and made me stop and think about this topic from a new perspective. Now it is just a matter of figuring out how to turn what I learned into an executable.

I can't stop smiling. The closing lesson was especially liberating, convincing me that it is safe to go forth and create, safe to be corny, safe to click COMPLETE.


Ede E.

Looking for things. Observe, appreciate. Be noticed. Toward the noticing!!!!! Get to know people that can get you noticed. Think about the problems you are trying to solve, in their language.

Kacey Z.

Gooby is the true master. Every piece of advice in this lesson hit me like lightning. Also, that's where NIKE's tagline came from? :O

Daniel P.

Jeff and Rich are magnetically affable. All of this is applicable filmmaking and life. It's obvious the poignancy they add to the campaigns they create is rooted in the fact that they care about their art and the people they speak to.

Carolyn S.

Thank YOU for doing the Black Shooting campaign. Powerful and YES running towards the fire. BRAVO!