Tales of the Tape - April 1994

dennis-daniel-apr94by Dennis Daniel

Hello, and welcome to part two of "Those Wacky Ad Agency Guys!" When we last left our hero, he was being called by a typical ad agency "old school" type who was informing him of a special "project" he wanted him to get involved in. You see, this ad agency guy had heard about our hero because he bought all the time for one of our hero's clients, liked his work, and decided to discuss a "project" with him.

"I think you and I can work together, Dennis."

"Sure, Mr. Lipshitz. Would you like to discuss the project now?"

"No, I'd like to meet you."

Now, right then and there, a buzzer should have gone off in my head! (WARNING! WARNING! SOME SMALL TIME AD AGENCY GUY IS TRYING TO SOUND BIG TIME BY ARRANGING A MEETING! Why can't he discuss it on the phone? Why can't he at least give me a clue?!) But, no. I fell for it. "Wow, he wants to meet me." Sounds important, huh? Sounds like big doin's. "Meet me!" Woooo! Can't talk about this one on the phone, laddy. This one's gonna be a keeper.

"Where would you like to meet, Mr. Lipshitz?"

He proceeded to give me the most bizarre directions I've ever taken to the most God forsaken pub/restaurant on the face of the earth. The meeting was set for 7 p.m.. Now, let me ask you something. If you were going to meet someone to discuss a business proposition, at 7 p.m., at a restaurant/pub/thing, AND you had been invited to do so by the person MAKING said business proposition, wouldn't you assume that place and time meant...uhmmmm...DINNER? DRINKS? SOMETHING? Of course you would. Any normal human being would.

Fast forward to 7 p.m. at the pub/eatery/joint. Mr. Lipshitz is there. Expensive tailored suit. Grey hair. Designer glasses. Fancy rings and chains. Large nose. Cruel smile. Hand outstretched in greeting. "Dennis Daniel! The voice of New York Radio! Harry Lipshitz. Glad to know ya!" Okay. So far, so good. Wants to massage my ego. Wants to impress me with his appearance. Fine. Good start.

The hostess comes. She sits us down. I'm starving. The menus arrive. I open and look. Pub food, but...no problem. I open my mouth and say, "Yes, I'd like to start with some chicken fingers and...."

"Oh...are you going to order dinner?"

"Uh...yes. Why? Aren't you?"

"Oh, no. I ate at home already. I just thought we'd have a coke and talk."

What? WHAT? WHAT!!! Why would you drag me out to the middle of nowhere to talk about some "project" at 7 p.m. if you didn't plan on feeding me, or at least joining me for dinner and discussion? All of a sudden, I felt like a complete dick. This was no way to get things started. I tell the waitress to bring me a coke and send her away.

"Now, about this project?" I ask.

Good Lord, have mercy. This man began to waste two hours of my time discussing a straight read with a bed for an insurance company that sold term life insurance. The message was simple: $15 a month, $100,000 of insurance, call 1-800-Rip-Off. This was it? This was the big project? He said his client ran on all-news stations with live copy. He said he wanted something "different." (There's that word again.) He then proceeded to hit me with a barrage of cliche riddled pronouncements about how "You're the creative one; I'm not creative. You're the genius; I'm a bum. You're the one who knows what he's doing; I don't know what I'm doing. You're the dynamo; I'm the schmuck. You're the award winner; I'm not an award winner." (I don't even want to get into the lame-ass haggling that went on about how much the spot would cost him!) And wait till you hear his wonderful, original concept for the spot! Because the office was in Manhattan on 34th Street, and it was the holiday season, he wanted me to say it was a "Miracle on 34th Street." But, of course, I didn't have to use that idea because..."I'm not the creative one; you're the creative one."

I left the pub/bar/joint hungry and tired. I never in my life heard anyone go on for so long about the same thing! And that was just the beginning! Plus, I low-balled my price strictly to compensate for all the time I wasted! Might as well take the account, right? After all that! The next day he calls me at work and says, "Dennis, I'd just like to go over what we discussed last night." AHHHH!

Two re-writes later. A call.

"Dennis?"

"Yes?"

"Guilt."

"What?"

"Guilt."

"Guilt?"

"Yes. We should guilt the people into buying their insurance for their family's sake."

"What are you talking about? I've written two spots already based on "Miracle on 34th Street!" I'm not changing the concept now!! Besides..."GUILT?" It's the holidays, you rube!"

Eventually, he approved copy, and I cut the spot. Can you guess what happened? "Well, I don't know. I like it but...maybe we can have more traffic noise?"

I told him I quit. He told me I was the genius, the creative one, and if I liked it, he'd keep it. I told him to keep it. I made dubs. I sent them. He called me. "Please re-cut it -- more traffic noise." I give in. I re-cut it. I wait two months for my $200. And I swear I will never, ever get involved with this kind of deal again! You're all lucky I'm giving you the Readers Digest version of this story! This man was literally driving me insane. He'd call, and I'd have my interns come in the room to hear my conversations with him so they would learn how to handle nutcases like this guy. I would scream at him on the phone! He would always go back to that..."I was just making a suggestion. I'm not the creative one; you're the creative one." It was phenomenal!

The lesson to be learned is simple: if they can't tell you about it over the phone, if they can't even give you a hint, DON'T GO! DON'T GET INVOLVED! Give yourself some peace. There are things just not worth doing.

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