The other day - not Tuesday, the other day - I was introduced to my agency's figurehead. This is a man who, I was told, has won more business for his agency than anyone in its history, has handled some of the biggest brands in the world and is regarded in the business as a god. He dates from the days when a single man could devise the positioning, write the ad, charm the client and quadruple sales.
'Whatever', I said. 'Is he buying lunch?'
He was. So I agreed to meet him.
Now, on the upside, the old boy didn't mind shelling out for all the good stuff that clients like: champers, vodders, beerers, lobsterers, mixed grillers and claret 'n' WKDers.
But he also shat out a ball-hurtingly high number of that cornerstone of adland: The Adman's Anecdote.
For my younger fellow marketing professionals, some guidance: The Adman's Anecdote can only be delivered by an elder statesman - someone who saw the gold era of advertising.
It will begin with the words, 'You know...' followed by a pause. This pause is the signal to us, the mere mortals of the marketing world, to shut the fuck up, strap your arse, cock and balls in nice and tight, and get ready for a life-changing bit of insight.
The anecdote will then commence in earnest. Usually like this:
Sir George Pisspot once told me, when he was Chairman of Kodak, that they were having real trouble in the western states of America.'What kind of problem, Sir George?' I asked (we were very close friends, you know).'The bastards won't bloody well buy our bloody products. No matter what we do, the bastards won't buy anything. I'm thinking of pulling out of the place altogether!'I said, 'Give me two weeks, Sir George. I'll see what I can do.'So off I toddled to the west coast, and I talked to their product man over there, and their sales chap, and everyone else in the company, right down to the receptionist. And after a week, I got them all in the boardroom and said, 'I know what your problem is. But you're going to have to trust me 100% to fix it.'Then I opened the boardroom door, and Brigitte Bardot walked in. (I'd called her - she's an old friend.)Well, they were amazed.I said, 'Meet the new face of Kodak.'They just applauded. We did some beautiful ads. I wrote the ad where Bardot is looking out from the ad with the line, 'Why I take better pictures than you', and my signature was underneath. And another with a picture of Bardot in a pool, and the line, 'Who is the legend? The subject or the photographer?' with a picture of me and my signature underneath. And another, with just a big picture of me and my signature, with a little shot of Bardot, and the line, 'A legendary adman explains why Kodak takes better pictures. Even if you're just a woman.'It was a very famous campaign. It quadrupled sales.Well, I went back to Sir George and said, 'There you go Georgey Boy - I've conquered the wild west for you!'He laughed and laughed and gave me a Bentley.
The anecdote will then end, and as far as I can tell, nobody has a fucking clue what it had to do with the conversation that preceded it, but nobody has the banjos to say, 'Sir? What the FUCK are you going on about, you old cuntslot? Don't you have an appointment with your proctologist to get to?'
Well, nobody had the banjos to say it until I turned up. His face was a picture! Of hate, mainly.
Still, you have to call it like you see it. I fucking do. Even when I'm absolutely smashed, which I was. A lot.
Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!