As Told To Marcus Honesta.
In “Part Three” of my sit down with one of the Advertising Agencies more famous, retired Creative Directors I asked him to share some of the more unusual, sometimes hilarious memories of life in this “Mad Men’s World”. What ensued was a collection of “Gems” of wisdom that are just as relevant then as they are today. I share them with you; our readers may especially enjoy these jaunts down memory lane. He told me:
The European based office of a large American multi national was doing it tough. (No chance of a lawsuit here. Plenty of candidates.)
Merges & acquisitions hadn’t worked. New business was in a hole. Awards were rarer than a lawyer who can’t stand the sight of money. No one was fooled by the new fit out / premises / rehashed proprietary tools / reworked creds etc.
So what next?
“I know” said the CFO, “we should hire a creative, creative director.” (His words.)
What I think he meant was lets hire someone who has won a lot of awards. So they did.
The new creative director moved in. The first thing he did, after firing the existing creative department, was to dictate that when work left the agency it had to be sold or “don’t come back”. Sound familiar. It should. It’s what CDP used to do when they ruled the advertising world. (Collett Dickenson Pearce was a British advertising agency which operated from 1960 till 2000. The agency played a pivotal role in London’s cultural shift of the 1960s and was a nursery for a number British creative entrepreneurs who would later enjoy famed careers). But then their work was so good they had little trouble convincing clients to buy it.
Anyway the new CD was particularly displeased when an account guy returned from a client meeting with a press ad for their big car client unsold. Unsold! He was made to go back only to return with the same result. No sale. This happened a number of times until the client said something like “If I see that ad one more time I’m putting my business out to pitch.”
So guess what happened next? The CD sent the account guy back with the same ad. The client put his account out to pitch. The CD presented the same ad in the pitch. The client fired the agency.
The agency then fired the CD and purchased a creative, creative agency.
The new head of the merged agency then fired the creative guy who was largely responsible for making the creative agency creative.
As I said, you can’t make this shit up!