I’m writing this with waterproof hands

Written by

Andrew Millar


December 8, 2007

Yes, if the definition of ‘auto-tragic’ is someone who spends three hours cleaning their car, then I am guilty as charged.

And yes, the process takes just three hours.

Firstly, you need to wash the wheels and lower body with water and orange oil to remove road and brake grease.

The second wash is with a big holed sponge and soft wash car detergent. Soft wash doesn’t remove polish. This is simply to remove surface dirt.

The third wash uses a lambswool mitt and slightly stronger car wash.

The fourth step rinses the car. We’re back to big holed sponges and clean water.

Fifth is a chamois dry. I have three different chamois cloths.

Six and seventh steps apply high tech liquid polymer wax. This is applied with a soft polish cloth and buffed off once the whole car has been covered. I use a polish cloth in both hands, which is not so taxing on the back muscles.

The eighth and ninth steps involve two applications of a sealing wax – Pure yellow Carnauba Wax. I use a $50 pot but you can buy the same quantity in a Waterford crystal pot for $2000. But there is a trick to applying it. It’s the reason for waterproof hands… the best way to apply this fragrant soft stuff is by hand… scooping a small lump out of the pot and rubbing it between your palms to allowing the heat from your hands to melt it onto the car body. It looks like some therapeutic massage. All I need is candles and a wind chime to make it some new aged healing ritual.

But once buffed off with fresh cloths (I use around 10 or 12 per wash…) the car shines like new…. And we’re ready to start the interior.

Now, why spend so much time on something that will be grubby again in the next rainstorm? Well, it’s all to do with preserving the new car ideal. It was a new car when I bought it, so it is worth the struggle to keep it looking like new. And in this case, dirt is an analogy for the unnecessary and often destructive suggestions clients often make.

Creative people develop concepts that are like new cars. They are all shiny and bright in their minds. And the whole process of approval is akin to driving over dirty and dusty roads. The concept ends up covered in mud and grime.

It would be easy to just go to press with something less than ideal. Easy to just capitulate to the grit of life.

But no. Conceptualisers, like us, have a vision of how the final ad or brochure should look, and three hours spent polishing and cleaning after the approval process returns it to its original glory.

In short, it is worth the trouble.

We are obsessed. True creative people are driven to create. When Bono was asked why he was creative, he replied… “Because I have a God shaped hole in me that needs to be filled….””. Lee Clow simply replied, “”Because the alternative sucks…”.”.

Polishing is just part of the process.

May my hands always smell of palm oil.