Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Dormant Volcano

You're stupid.
The idea sucks.
And I want to leap across this table and beat you up with my shoe.

If you work in advertising, you've no doubt had one of these moments.
And if you've been in advertising for any number of years, you have successfully squelched these completely understandable urges.

I share this not-so-insightful insight with you for a reason.

Last week, out of curiosity I dropped a note to an old colleague. Until very recently he was employed by a small boutique-y type agency. Months before that, this small agency had been looking for an Executive Creative Director. Out of sheer curiosity, I threw my hat in the ring. I had one phone interview, followed by unexplainable silence.

So I asked my former workmate why my name had been thrown in the Returned Goods bin. I asked him to be brutally honest. And he was. He told me someone, and it doesn't matter who, said, "Siegel can be gruff. And has been volatile with clients."

Am I outraged at this slanderous accusation?
Well, 50% outraged.

As I have previously documented in Why I Sucked at Being a Creative Director, I can be gruff. Not something I'm proud of, but also not something I can argue with.

I have on many occassion erupted inside the halls of the ad agency, and brought planners, account executives and even art directors to tears.

However, I was never volatile with clients.
And Lord knows there were many opportunities.

Obligatory war story time.

Years ago I was in charge of Jaguar advertising for Y&R/Irvine. 6 months into the job we were presenting the first new campaign ideas. I was working with legendary art director John Doyle and he had some incredible layouts on 10 double-page print ads. The layouts were so incredible and so meticulous I felt the need to over compensate, so I wrote the body copy for all 10 ads. For those of you not in the biz, that is unheard of.

I don't want to sound immodest, but the writing was crisp, clean and had just the right amount of British flavored wit. Just as I had finished reading the first ad to the C-suite executives at Jaguar, one fucketty fuck in the back piped in and said, "that's fine, next."

Meaning you'd like me to read the next of the 9 carefully-crafted spreads we had prepared? I asked.

"No," he replied, "Move on to the next campaign."

I remember biting hard on my tongue, flipping the foam board over and reminding myself that I had two young daughters in private school. I was anything but volatile. In fact I smiled, summoned some inner strength and moved on to the next campaign. Because that's what professionals do.

I will not reveal the identity of this incredibly rude and disrespectful client who lacked the legendary British sense of manners. Because that's also what professionals do. Suffice to say, that Mr. I-Can't-Be-Bothered-With-Your-Creative-Admakery shares the same first name as me.

Oh and he handily lived up to the pejorative nickname.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Someone you and I have both worked for gave me one of my best days in advertising. We were in a meeting with a fast food client who was just trashing the boards being presented. After this went on for a while, our mutual friend stood up, slammed his hand down on the table, and said "You don't know shit about advertising! You ought to pay for the privilege of watching me work!" I know it's bad form, and yet it was awesome.