Corner Office Creativity

My boss at Great Big Boring and Bland Advertising Agency called me into his corner office to discuss a new TV spot for a candy client that I handled.

I was a creative supervisor on the account and had a great track record with them. I think the envious Mr. Corner Office didn’t like the idea that the client always seemed to buy whatever I presented.

So while I was on vacation, he worked up a corny commercial that he presented himself and was and shot down by the client. Corner Office wanted his concept sold, and I was given the task of re-presenting it.

“Fine,” I said “Maybe we can just tweak it and have another go at it. But, we should probably have another idea to present at the same time.”

I worked up a new concept and brought it to Corner Office’s office for review. The boss’ reaction was: “Well, I’m not nuts about it, but present it. I really want the other spot sold.”

At the client meeting he sent Carl Blowhard, a cigar-chomping lieutenant along to make sure I wasn’t going to try to sell my idea.  The first words out of Blowhard’s mouth were: “We’ve got something that’s gonna knock you on your ass!”

I said, as calmly as I could: “Well, actually before we show you anything new, we’d like to re-present an idea that you saw previously. And, like a good soldier, I re-presented Corner Office’s favorite. “Hmm,” said the client. “It’s really not so bad, is it?  But Carl said you’re gonna knock me on my ass. What else do you have?”  Then I went on to show him my idea. “Wow! That one’s terrific. Let’s do it!”

When we got back, Blowhard tells Corner Office that I sold him down the river.

And so the nightmare begins…

About a week later, Corner Office calls me in to a meeting and says “Take us through the commercial you sold the client,”

After I described it, Blowhard says: “No. No. That’s not how it goes. Where’s the guy with a cow and the candy bars falling on his head?”  Corner Office cuts Blowhard off and he says: “No, the guy falls off a ladder into the candy bars.”

“Wait a minute!” I respond. “You just asked me to present the concept that the client agreed to spend half a million dollars to produce. There’s no cow. And certainly no ladder. Look, I’ve offered to sell the client something else. Now we’re ready to shoot it and you want to change it?”

“Do you want to do the commercial or not?” says Corner Office. “Do I want to do what Blowhard just described? No. I don’t like — or even understand — what either of you just told me.” “Fine. Blowhard will do it,” says Corner Office.

I left GBB&B a few weeks later and started a freelance creative service.

Blowhard made the TV spot the way he described it, which was awful. The client paid a small fortune for it, refused to put on TV and then fired the agency.

The client and I had a drink shortly after that and he confessed that he hated Corner Office and Blowhard from the get-go.

I ran into Corner Office about year ago, looking very tired, used up and unhappy. I’d never realized before how short he was.

Hired Gun

Two Birds With One Stone

Bob was a buyer in the graphic arts section of the purchasing department of one of the nation’s largest magazine publishers. This company produced monthly publications for nearly every business category. And the graphic arts section, with 36 employees, was responsible for more individual and complex purchases than any other section.

When the director of the entire purchasing department announced his retirement, Steve, the graphic arts supervisor was named to replace him. That set off a scramble for Steve’s position, and Bob and the other buyers all postured for the promotion to supervisor.

Since Bob was the “go to” guy in the section, with the most knowledge of graphics production, he was considered a shoo-in for the promotion. He was the most efficient order processor in the entire purchasing department, and was respected and well liked by the vendors.

The retiring director however, was not a fan of Bob. Even though he was a lame duck executive, about to depart the company, he expressed his negative concerns to Steve and the other supervisors in a meeting. He explained that Bob was a maverick and didn’t really fit in with the corporate culture of the company. He made decisions without approval from above, and his productivity was so high, that he couldn’t possibly be thorough.

Steve, the incoming director defended Bob by pointing out that Bob’s annual review was always among the highest in the department, his decisions consistently saved the company money, and he rarely made an error.

Within the next two weeks the landscape changed in Purchasing. The director retired. He was replaced by a different supervisor. Steve resigned in protest. And Bob was advised to seek other employment, as he was no longer needed in this department.