Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Tale of the Thin Packet.


Please forgive me for the usage of this stock photo, found easily on Google images.

As I have noted in the past, teasers like this often result in increased web traffic. Which is very important right now as we prepare RoundSeventeen for its IPO and eventual sale to Google for 3.8 billion dollars.

Like I said, it's all about marketing, a field I thought I knew something about. With each passing day however, that expertise seems to be waning.

War story time.

Years ago I was hired to do a freelance gig. It was a one week affair. A run and gun, drink some coffee, bring an extra set of clothes, bitch of a pitch.

I'm not very fond of these affairs and never believed the best creative is produced under these conditions. But, as my niece -- a guidance counselor -- once pointed out in a book of job definitions for graduating high schoolers, a Copywriter must be able to sparkle on demand. 

On this particular job I was teamed up with another copywriter. That doesn't happen too often but he was a colleague and someone I had known for many years. He's also one of the few people who can hold his own in a battle of wits, despite being raised in Wisconsin.

We were briefed at 9:30 AM and by 9:45 AM had fallen into a comfortable rhythm.

We were riffing.
Writing.
And sparkling on demand.

We maintained this scorching pace throughout the day. Interrupted by several bitch sessions about being married, fathering children, scummy Hollywood agents, other hacky copywriters, and again about being married.

At 6 o'clock we got a phone call from the Creative Director who had briefed us just 9 hours earlier. He was offsite but wanted to see the work. And told us to email everything we had by the end of the day.

So we stopped looking at Turkish Bestiality Porn and knocked out a couple of more scripts.

At 8 PM, we hit the Send button, a hastily-written note and 16 fully written scripts. That was some serious sparkling.

The very next morning we approached the swaggering Creative Director and solicited some feedback.

"The packet was a little thin."

That was his response.
Verbatim.
16 scripts.
One day.
And the packet was a little thin!

I thought we were in the business of solving a client's business challenge with strategic, disruptive communications, I didn't get the memo we were now in business of pumping out marketing manure by the pound.

As if that doesn't defy logic, consider our reactions.

I, born and bred in New York, wanted to clock this ass nugget and share with him some of the wisdom I've learned in my 44 years on this earth. But I bit my lip and smiled.

My Wisconsin compatriot was even more steamed.

"The packet was thin," he muttered under his breath. 

Sensing his anger, I wedged my body between my midwestern colleague and the shit-for-brains Creative Director. You probably don't know many people from Wisconsin, but I'm here to tell you, they're preternaturally nice and usually not prone to violence.

Usually.

But pacifism prevailed.

In the end, none of the 87 scripts we wrote that week made it into the 534 page deck presented to the client. And the agency we were working for, didn't win the pitch. In fact they had their pockets picked and lost the account.

Two hardworking, hard sparkling copywriters enjoyed a heaping helping of schadenfreude.






1 comment:

George Tannenbaum said...

Love it.

And BTW, my packet is very thick.