Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The good old days of advertising

It goes without saying that I'm one of those cranky old creatives who says, "Advertising was better in the old days."

And it was.

Not just because our media choices were limited (and thus more effective), but because our traveling arrangements were not.

Allow me to explain.

Last week, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tim Price had his ass handed to him for not flying commercial. He opted for the infinitely more comfortable and infinitely more humane private jet. Which, if you've had the pleasure, is the only way to cruise the skies at 40,000 feet.

My first journey aboard a private jet came unexpectedly.

We were shooting a commercial with Joe Pytka (BTW, the worst million dollar commercial I ever wrote) and the location manager was unable to find something to Joe's liking. Pytka fixed the situation by chartering a private prop jet to fly us back and forth between Los Angeles and the Four Corners Monument Valley -- recognizable from many John Ford early westerns.

The flight was loud and little more than 90 minutes each way, which gave me ample time to beat Joe at chess. Pytka does not like losing. Which made winning all the more sweeter.

My second trip aboard a private jet came not long after that, when my boss Lee Clow said my partner John Shirley and I were going to fly to Tampa to meet the most obnoxious woman in advertising, the CMO at Outback Steakhouse, a client often referred to as simply Outhouse.

This was a tiny 4-seat Lear Jet that, because of its diminutive size, had to fly at 48,000 feet above sea level. Here, the sky starts going from blue to a darker shade of outer space. The rest room aboard the Lear was nothing more than an empty pickle bucket stuck in a makeshift closet.

My favorite private jet experience came in 1999. When the new business team at Chiat/Day boarded a Gulfstream IV to fly to Incestville, North Carolina. Maybe I have the town's name wrong. In either case, it was in the deepest part of Appalachia and thus precluded us from going commercial. At least that's how it was explained to our financial overlords at Omnicom.

Dear lord, this was living.

We each had a big comfortable leather bucket seat. There was ample room to walk around. There was even a bar onboard stocked with top shelf liquor, just the way some of the top brass at Chiat liked it.

"I'll have a Rob Roy and my colleague here will have a Tom Collins."

But perhaps the best amenity onboard the Gulfstream IV was the flight attendant. I knew her from a past life when I was a short order cook and she was a waitress who would regularly ignore my late night advances.

I'm sure that as she was serving me a third platter of crackers, hummus and cubed cheddar snacks, she was thinking to herself...

"Damn, he's like a big macher now, I should have grabbed him when I had the chance."

Or, maybe not.

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