Monday, August 15, 2011

We've got to stop meeting like this.

       I think advertising and marketing people like meetings for the same reason we liked movies in elementary school. It's a chance to close your notebooks, sit in the dark, and know you'll be out of the spotlight for a while unless you fall asleep and snore.

        Personally, I love meetings because they're good places for people-watching. The top gun, letting everyone know why he called this meeting. His assistant, explaining the objectives and the rules of engagement. Then the rest of us, for whom this meeting is about as high on our priority lists as trimming our cuticles.

       I'm eternally grateful to my mentor, who taught me how to yawn with my mouth closed.

       I was in the meeting that the biggies at General Motors called to discuss Ralph Nader's book, "Unsafe at Any Speed", about the Chevy rear-engine Corvair. It led to a $20-million ad campaign that I wrote when I woke up. A good meeting.

       Another meeting about GM that I remember was an internal meeting held at our agency. One of our senior vice presidents said he was worried that General Motors was selling so many cars, the government might make them split off Chevrolet. My friend Marv offered a solution: Chevy should stop advertising, let Ford overtake them, and then advertise "We're only number 2" like Avis. The senior vice president said that probably wouldn't work. I thought Marv would be out of work by nightfall.

        I also remember another meeting that took place two weeks after we learned that a big client was on the verge of leaving but would give us one last chance to save the business. The meeting was in our Chairman's office. He had decided this was so important, he'd present our recommended ad campaign to the client alone, mano to mano. We in the creative department had worked very hard, and come up with three campaigns that would do a great job, and we recommended one. We presented the pluses and minuses of each to the Chairman, and spent the rest of the day preparing him for every possible question. He asked me to stack the campaigns on his office couch, with the recommendation on the right, so he'd remember the correct one in the morning.

      After meeting with the client,  the Chairman called us in for a debriefing. The meeting went well, we would not lose the account, and the client loved our recommendation, which he pointed to.

      Unfortunately, that was not our recommendation. He had sold the wrong campaign. Apparently the cleaning lady had done a major cleaning the night before, and placed the wrong campaign on the right side of the couch.

      That's when we decided that next time we had a meeting with the Chairman, we'd label our recommendations with a big red permanent marker star.



1 comment:

  1. Great story and I love you writing style. You can be the meeting sleeper and I'll be the meeting geek since I love the interaction.