Remembering One Groovy Dude

 

By Alex López Negrete

To many readers of Las Noticias, the name Brett Elliott might be new, although his work and talent certainly won’t be. And, of course, to many, many others, Brett occupies a very special place in our hearts.

I will, in the next few paragraphs, do my very and most humble best to try to pay homage to the dear friend, esteemed colleague, Editor-in-Chief of Las Noticias, and overall spectacular humanoid we very tragically lost early one Monday morning this past March.

Brett Elliott came into Cathy’s and my life sometime around 1987 when we met as volunteers to catalogue Addy entries for what was then the Houston Advertising Federation. By then, Brett was a well-known and award-winning copywriter at some of Houston’s finest advertising agencies. Our love of music and advertising and a shared, quirky sense of humor became the foundation of what ended up being a wonderful friendship that lasted almost 22 years. For the first few of those years, we would mostly find each other, again, volunteering for the Houston Advertising Federation. Whether it was the Addy Awards, Advertising Student Conference (Brett’s favorite), the monthly membership luncheons or the famous Ad2 Oyster Orgy, there we were, glass in hand, critiquing the latest in music and advertising, or planning our next concert adventure or Houston Rockets game, many of which we were fortunate to share.

Brett was a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin (Class of ’77), and was the recipient of the Spirit of HAF award (1997) for his dedication and many contributions to the advertising community.

But, it was in 2003 when Brett Elliott officially became a member of the Lopez Negrete Communications family. Our agency had grown significantly by then, and Brett reached out to Cathy and me proposing that he join our agency. It made perfect sense. The agency had entered a critical stage in its life as its brand, identity and legacy had come into focus. The time had come for us to define our voice, whether it was in our very active new business activities through RFIs, RFPs, proposals, or our own self-promotional materials (like the Las Noticias newsletter, which is now in its 10th edition), or even working on English-language advertising clients, such as Blue Leaf, for example. So, he came on board – and quickly made a deep impact on us as a family, as an organization and as a brand.

While Brett’s official title was “Senior Copywriter,” he had great fun calling himself our lead “Gringo Copywriter” (he very much wanted that title on his business card, something he finally got to do this year when we designed our new stationery and image package). But, Brett was a lot more than that to our agency, to us collectively, and certainly, individually.

Yes, the work he did while at Lopez Negrete won many awards and accolades. And, yes, his volunteer work for the American Advertising Federation-Houston (among many other organizations) continued. And, yes, our friendship deepened. But he truly took root at Lopez Negrete. Frankly, it’s hard for me to think of a day when Brett wasn’t here. Funny how one can get accustomed to the good stuff in life. I got accustomed to having someone whom I could call a friend to be at the agency as late as I was – to bounce something off of, or to just plop myself in front of his desk and enjoy a glass of Rodney Strong wine while covering the events of the day, the latest pitch, a new campaign, or just, well, shooting the breeze. Brett always seemed to be there – both physically and emotionally.

But, not just for me. Brett also made many friends and struck some very deep chords with many – especially the younger folks at our agency. You see, some people call Brett a “student of advertising” – but I disagree. He was a “child of advertising” – he was far, far more than a student. He loved the craft of advertising like few people I have ever known or worked with. He breathed it. It was central to him and to his identity. Advertising was truly his passion. So, he made himself readily available to anyone, especially those new to the business who sought inspiration, counsel, understanding or even further explanation of all things advertising. He always made time for them. Night or day, young or old. The only requirement was sincerity – and a love for advertising. If you had that, you were in. It is only right that this year, he will be honored posthumously with the Silver Medal Award, the highest honor bestowed upon any individual by the American Advertising Federation.

There were many things that I, and many others, learned from Brett. I, for one, learned that Brett was far more than a copywriter. He was a prolific writer who brought with his extraordinary talent a true love and knowledge of Pop culture – and understood the symbiotic relationship that film, television, music and advertising enjoy, if not require. His love and deep knowledge of music provided a unique backdrop to his work as well. And, of course, his zany, quirky, snappy and kooky (some of his favorite adjectives) sense of humor provided an inimitable texture to his writing. His work was rich in every sense. It was intelligent, entertaining work. Work that made you think, that made you smile, and work that cut through the clutter and never failed to make a point. Even his internal e-mails and personal notes had character, humor and humanity. In fact, at the end of every single e-mail, he would sign off with “Peace. Love. (plus whatever other noun, adjective or verb that would make sense to the matter at hand).” That was his trademark. That was his halo.

So, yes, in a tragic, random and senseless act one Monday morning in March of 2009, we lost Brett Lindsay Elliott. Wordsmith. Mentor. Confidant. Pop Culture Connoisseur. Friend.

We ask that you join us in remembering and celebrating the life of someone very special who not only made us a better agency, but also brought honor and fun to the craft of advertising – and made the world itself better through his selflessness and love of life.

Peace. Love. Brett.

 
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