Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

On Reflection…

Posted: May 23, 2013 in Adstories
Tags: , , ,

A certain early boss of mine was very much the image-conscious type. She appeared to spend most of her salary on a parade of new fashions and expensive salon treatments. She enjoyed the comments on her appearance – though not necessarily when they came from me.

We were standing in the foyer of a client’s office tower one afternoon waiting for the elevator. The dated foyer was vividly lit with bare flourescent tubes and the main wall was one great big, highly reflective mirror. At this time of day, the bleak winter sun was low in the sky and blasted straight in through the west-facing glass doors. It combined with the flourescent lighting to create an extremely harsh, unflattering lighting environment.

mirror-on-the-wall snow white

We stood there waiting in the small foyer, confronted with our full length reflections.

“Oh my god, I look like absolute shit!” said my boss.

“Don’t worry, I look like absolute shit, too” I replied.

I got the vibe this was the wrong reply. Very, very wrong.

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This story of a pitch gone bad was told by Jonathon, a former colleage of mine. In fact, it sounds like the pitch went bad even before it started:

iced-waterThe client’s CEO, known to be difficult, was chairing the meeting. A major piece of business was at stake. It was an existing client, but there had been trouble on the account. So tension was high as Jonathon led our new pitch team into the client’s boardroom. The board table was bare except for drinking glasses and a couple of jugs of iced water.

The CEO was already seated at the head of the table and impatient for the meeting to start. However, following good presentation guidelines, Jonathon and his team took a moment to get settled. Jonathon poured a glass of water, took a calming breath and commenced the presentation.

“We know the relationship has been strained. But today, I want to present a fresh, new team”, Jonathon said as he gestured to the agency team.

Unfortunately, with his sweeping gesture, Jonathon clipped the full glass. It tipped, sending a river of icy water across the table, over the edge and right into the CEO’s lap.

Jonathon blurted out, “I knew I’d do that!”

The CEO responded in a voice as chilling as his sodden pants, “Well you certainly didn’t disappoint yourself”.

And with that, the CEO exited the room – along with the account.

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One of my more fun clients was a Surfwear brand, headquartered down the coast at Torquay. The founders, who were now in their late 50s, prided themselves on still being very much in touch with the kids – in particular the young surfers who made up much of the population of Torquay.

Following a meeting, one of the founders pulled me aside and asked what I knew about consumer surveys and petitions? He explained McDonald’s had applied for a permit to open a franchise in Torquay. It would be the first McDonald’s, and indeed the first fast food chain of any brand, to open in Torquay. Until now, Torquay had managed to retain its early 1970s sleepy, surf-side town feel which included a grocery store, a couple of classic milk bars and a small number of restaurants and coffee shops. There were no supermarkets, KFCs, Starbucks – or McDonald’s.

Ronald McDonald

The founders were outraged the Torquay lifestyle was about to be ruined by the opening of a McDonald’s. I was asked to go out on the streets of Torquay to conduct brief video interviews, or vox pops as they are known, with the local youth. The responses would be edited into a punchy video montage capturing what my client described as, “the raw, emotional reactions” of Torquay’s youth to the potential McDonalds’ invasion.

A couple of days later, with a microphone in hand and a camera operator following, I hit the beach at Torquay and found the ideal first interviewee – a typical bleach-haired surfer emerging, dripping wet, from the surf carrying his board under one arm. This was the bulls-eye target for the vox pop video montage. We approached and I asked him my non-leading question:

“McDonald’s is planning to open a store in Torquay. How do you feel about this?”

And, just as my client had instructed, I got this guy’s “raw, emotional reaction”:

“Fuckin’ great! A Macca’s? When’s it opening?”

Pretty much all the other reactions were along similar “emotional” lines.

The McDonald’s Torquay store opened a few months later and, based on the last time I drove by, it appears business is doing  fuckin’ great.

Surfers

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A good talent agent is always on the lookout for any extra fees they can pick up for their clients.

If an ad runs longer than negotiated, appears in regions not negotiated or appears on the internet when it was only negotiated for TV – you can expect an invoice from the talent agent seeking more fees for the actors involved. That’s fair enough.

However, a line was definitely crossed when we once received a mystery “appearance” fee for a couple of extras who’d been cast in a TV commercial we’d just produced.

Upon querying the invoice it turns out the additional fee was for the two extras “appearing” (and getting very drunk) at a free drinks party hosted by the client to thank the cast and crew for the production of the TV commercial.

Wisely, the talent agent agreed to cancel the invoice. Nice try though!

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If you’ve spent any time in an editing suite you’ll get a laugh out of this video – or maybe a cringe. In fact, it reminded me of my own “Whoosh” story which also took place in an editing suite.

We were finishing a Retail TV commercial – the kind that ends with a series of “crazy” prices flashing across the screen. The junior client had joined us to supervise and approve the editing of his first TV commercial. He was a young marketing graduate – though not just your everyday graduate. He quickly informed us he was an MBA!

It soon became clear our client considered the agency creative team redundant as he positioned himself in the “command” chair next to the editor and started calling the shots. In truth, we were fairly happy to let him go at it. This ad was never going to be pretty – no matter who directed the edit.

After much fussing over the timing, speed and the size of the price graphics, our client decided what he really needed were “whoosh” sound effects to accompany each of the three prices as they flew across the screen. “Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh“, our client said out loud so there could be no confusion.

Our editor didn’t have a whoosh sound effect on his system so picked up the phone to call the edit suite down the corridor where the sound effects library was kept. He asked for a whoosh sound effect to be emailed across. “No, no, no”, said our client, gesturing wildly for the editor not to hang up the phone. “We need three whooshes, not just one”!

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In case you haven’t seen it, click here.

 

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This is the best work related advice I ever received. Remembering it, as required from time-to-time, kept the blood pressure down and actually allowed me to enjoy advertising a whole lot more.

Don’t get me wrong, I took the job seriously. It’s just that if those shelf-wobblers didn’t make it to the Coonabarabran Woolworths on time, nobody was going to die.

 

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