February 27, 2012

How Success Happens

This is an amazing success story. It was told to me by a very good friend who swore me to secrecy about the names and details. It goes something like this.

Once upon a time there was an ad agency with two chief creative officers. They had two chiefs because it was a giant agency with giant global clients that proved to be too much for one person to handle.

The two chiefs were very different. One was an artistically-minded intellectual. He was thoughtful, quiet, and introverted.

The other one was much less smart, but was highly political and great fun to be around.

These two chiefs had their own accounts, their own staffs, and generally kept out of each others' way.

They weren't quite equal though. Mr. Quiet had a higher title. His title was President/CCO, while Mr. Fun's title was Exec VP/CCO.

One day Mr. Fun got an important assignment from a client. The assignment was to do a Super Bowl commercial. This was particularly important for the agency because they had a dismal record with Super Bowl spots.

The CEO of the agency called Mr. Quiet and Mr. Fun together. He told them that although the Super Bowl assignment fell to Mr. Fun, he wanted them all to agree on a concept before it went to the client.

Mr. Fun's team worked on the assignment for weeks and developed an idea they were very excited about. When they showed it to Mr. Quiet, he hated it. He thought it was stupid, juvenile, and would cost the agency dearly. Mr. Fun loved it and thought it would be a huge success.

The CEO agreed with Mr. Fun. He also called in the executive leadership of the agency and showed the idea to them. They all agreed with Mr. Fun that it was a great spot. Mr. Quiet was unmoved and fought tooth and nail against the spot.

Mr. Quiet lost the argument and the spot was presented to the client and ultimately aired on the Super Bowl.

It was a big success.

Mr. Quiet, who was well-known but lightly regarded inside the ad industry, suddenly achieved great fame. As the president and chief creative officer of the agency that produced the brilliant Super Bowl spot, he went on to achieve godlike status.

This is not actually an advertising story. But, in honor of the Academy Awards,  it is the true story of one of the most successful movies in history.

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