I didn't like it, I struggled to breathe and I spent a lot of the time wondering what the hairy fucking heck I was doing there.
(I mean, a planner asked me whether my brand is a fan of X-Factor, or more a fan of Strictly Come Dancing, for fuck's sake. I pretended I had something in my eye and it all blew over, thank wank.)
That said, the cold bath treatment of getting back into the swing of things gave me the clarity to see just what the problem is with agencies.
Here's how I get a campaign out that's aimed at, say, fisting enthusiasts:
I call the account exec and say I need an ad aimed at fisting enthusiasts. She tells the account director, who enlists the help of a planner, a creative director and a digital specialist. The account director draws on a wealth of experience in this sector to steer the team, highlighting potential pitfalls and opportunities. The account exec supports and facilitates along the way. The planner (I am told) looks into the market and target audience in depth, discovering a unique insight into what fisting enthusiasts want from their consumer durables and produces a brief the creatives can turn into some great work. The creative director inspires the agency's creatives to find new and eye-catching ways to stop this target audience, get my message across and sell my product. The digital specialist dovetails with the creatives to help me bring the campaign to life online, perhaps using social media or devising groundbreaking ways of breaking out of traditional media and into a new and more engaging way of creating a connection with my consumer.
(Meanwhile, the media agency will drop the bombshell that to reach fisting enthusiasts I need to put a page ad in Fisting World and a banner ad on fisting.com. Fuck me. Really?)
It takes weeks of endeavour. Then the agency presents the ad with a mixture of pride and trepidation, confidence and fear, satisfied that they've developed something new, bold, impactful and effective - something they feel is almost part of them - but anxiously eager for me to like it.
At that point, I present the ad to my mother (she's nearly target audience) for research, she notices that the woman in it has mean eyes, or the colour of the type reminds her of the dress she wore the day my father left, and it's back to the drawing board. The whole process can sometimes be repeated 3 times before an ad gets to the public.
Now, I think I've spotted the flaw in all this.
The agencies put a massive amount of work into getting the ad in front of me, and I blow it out of the water on the strength of whatever my mother says, no matter how irrelevant or bizarre.
I don't know why I didn't see it sooner! It's so obvious!
Don't bother with all that work! Just give me some rough shit you thought up in half an hour and let me blow that out of the water on the strength of whatever my mother says. It'll save a lot of time, heartache and self-harm in the creative department.
Fucking easy! Some days I amaze myself - nearly! Ha ha! Nothing I do amazes me these days!
Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!