A Guy You Could Always Count On (And I Mean That Literally)

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BERNARD “BY THE NUMBERS” O’NEIL didn’t just have a head for numbers, he had a head OF numbers. No, I mean really the guy’s noggin was actually made out of numbers–little sevens and threes and fifty-twos all over, sticking out of his nose and stuff. And while the marketing industry lauds him today as a Pioneer of Creativity, there was a time he wasn’t looked upon so favorably.

Bernard "By the Numbers" O'Neil

Bernard “By the Numbers” O’Neil

It was in middle-school arithmetic that Bernard first began to have problems (if you’ll excuse the pun). For a child who’d gone digital to a degree that really freaked people out, it was a difficult time, and his ability to detach from subjective impressions and think objectively went largely unappreciated. While one might expect that, among other left brainers the boy would be in his prime (excuse that one, too), his strange appearance and tendency to quantify everything only earned wisecracks such as “Hey, Bernard, after school we’re all going over to Tina’s to work on our algebra homework. Can we count on you?”

You see, then as now, some people suffered with the misconception that creativity only comes from individuals who operate without rules, boundaries, or limitations of any sort. Maniacs like John Phillip Souza left everyone with the impression that trashing hotel rooms was an artist’s prerogative, and thus to be truly inventive one must be impulsive and unpredictable. But of course, now we know that true creativity begins with a clear analysis of a given challenge, and those who have the ability to think objectively and define the need can be just as creative as the artists who package and present the solution. We have Bernard O’Neil to thank for that.


THE SERIES “PIONEERS OF CREATIVITY” SEEKS TO RECOGNIZE THE LONG FORGOTTEN HEROES OF ADVERTISING & MARKETING AND TO REMIND US THAT CREATIVITY IS A HUMAN TRAIT WE ALL SHARE, NOT ONE LIMITED TO AN ELITE GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS WHO LIKE TO WEAR UNUSUAL SOCKS AND ALWAYS JUST THINK THEY’RE SO COOL.

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