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In Spite Of Our Best Efforts And Best Arguments,...
Their work is often exemplary. Yet, in this instance, the only lesson we were likely to learn was where to draw the line.
In spite of our best efforts and best arguments, the bank insisted upon using the west-coast bank theme. All we had to do was put it into the British idiom - or, in this case, idiot. And that was the mistake of mistakes, because American humour tends not to translate too well into proper English; and the theme of the thing was all-singing, all-dancing American humour. Anyway, we did as we were bid, though not without a struggle.
While the films were being made, our creative people put together several alternative campaigns, which, in our view, were streets ahead of the material we had been lumbered with. This alternative material was presented to the bank officials by the account director and myself at a meeting I shall merely describe as tense. I admit that I lost my head somewhat at the closed-mind attitude of the client; and I made no bones about what I thought. The denouement came as my colleague was taken into an ante-room by the bank's digital marketing officer. They reappeared some minutes later, the account director looking for all the world as though he had been kneed in the groin; and by the way he half-inclined his head towards the door, I knew the interview was over.
The campaign ran, but it was a complete and utter disaster. And the bank, which had been claiming for years to be number one, was overtaken in weeks by number two.
What's more, the agency lost the account eventually, anyway. All of which goes to show what happens when people keep dogs but insist on barking themselves.
There is a final consideration about agency work which should be borne in mind. For reasons which I fully understand, but am quite unable to go along with, very many creative people seem unwilling to come to terms with the commercialism of it all. They feel that their art is somehow being sold down the river, calculated as it is in implacable pounds and pence. All I can say is that an agency is in business to make money - as, presumably, are copywriters. Nothing much matters to an agency chief except his profitability.
Creativity, plaudits and awards are all secondary to the row of figures at the bottom of his performance sheets. Anybody who tries to make it in online advertising with anything other than a philosophy that parallels or reflects this one had better be very, very good. Otherwise, they will shortly be very, very fired.
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