I believe therefore I am
I have had a busy summer shouting at stupid people. Having received a brief for a European corporate ‘awareness campaign’, I duly presented the accumulated wisdom of my many years of awareness campaigning to Sir and a considerable flock of subordinates. The client expressed his ‘disappointment’ that I hadn’t addressed their need for a ‘value proposition’. He worked his way around the room gathering opinion from his team who all said, “Baaaa… oooh yes Sir, you’re so right…”
I felt like a gunslinger walking into the saloon where the conversation stops and the piano player dives behind the bar. The safety catch was off. I now had a choice. I could back out the door slowly before my mouth started firing random abuse, or I could slug it out.
The red mist welled up and all I can remember is that I didn’t jab my finger in anyone’s face. I saw an interview with Bill Clinton once where he said that in heated debate, it was essential not to point fingers as the gesture was overly aggressive. Clinton used his thumb which, apparently, is politically correct. So there I was, purple faced, neck vein bulging and spraying spittle as I ranted uncontrollably and all I could think of was, “It’s okay Scot, it doesn’t matter what names you’re calling him, you’re not pointing, you’re using your thumb. All is well.”
All was in fact very far from ‘well’. It was unacceptable in my opinion that a $2 billion company should ask a number of small agencies for their unpaid responses to their brief and then move the goalposts from ‘awareness’ to ‘value proposition’. I was particularly incandescent because this was at least the second time this particular client (I use the term loosely) had shape-shifted mid stroke. Eighteen months earlier the brief had been for a “radical and creative brand strategy.” That’s what I delivered. Turns out my proposal was ‘too radical’ and ‘too creative’, and the client decided that the best time to be disappointed at my lack of telepathy skills was after I had presented the requested brand awareness campaign. Tisk.
At some undefined point, my spleen was fully vented and a stunned silence reigned. I packed up my things, and, with the surprising absence of ‘any further questions’, I left.
Sir called me the following day. Apparently, “it’s important to follow these things up.” Well, no, it isn’t. Everything had been said. It turns out he still thought he was right and just wanted another fight. I took a deep breath and simply said, “Look, you’re worth nothing to me. You’ve been worth nothing for years and you’ll never be worth anything. You’re a drain on my resources and my energy. The conversation is over. Goodbye.” And I hung up.
It’s possible I was wrong. It’s possible that the work didn’t answer the brief. It’s even possible that it just wasn’t good enough. But that’s not the point. The point, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is that you have to believe. Not a little, not a lot. You have to BELIEVE with every single fibre in your body. Because no one else will. Least of all the client. Believe it, live it and hang up on any mutthafuggah who isn’t prepared to die for the cause.