April 13, 2015

The Dumbest Client I Ever Didn't Get

One of the great joys of the ad business is that if you're in it long enough you'll meet every kind of dumb person on the planet.

During my career in advertising I had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of nice, intelligent people. And more than a few real nitwits.

Among the nitwits, one stands out.

Thankfully, he never became a client. As a matter of fact, I only had the pleasure of being with him in one meeting. But in that one meeting it became clear to me that a well-dressed, well-spoken, internationally handsome imbecile could really go far in marketing.

I don't want to embarrass anybody, so I won't get too specific.

One of our clients, a very successful food company here in the U.S., was doing a joint venture with a European company to introduce a new "fresh fruit" product. Well, it was kind of fresh and kind of fruit, but nonetheless, it was positioned as a "fresh fruit" product. It was juice-like.

The product was just so-so and if everything went perfectly I gave it about a 30% chance of success. For some reason the introduction in the U.S. was being handled by the cmo of the European partner, which gives you some idea of how well thought-out this whole enterprise was.

We were finalists in a multi-agency circle jerk. To the European cmo we were just some dumb agency from San Francisco. He was used to internationally dumb agencies.

At the final presentations, he came down from the mountain to attend the meetings. We did a good presentation -- nothing brilliant, but solid and workable and capable of creating a successful launch.

And then Mr. Euromoron stepped in and revealed his brilliant strategy:
"Do you know how many people in the U.S. never buy fresh fruit juice?" he asked rhetorically. "Almost 50%!"

"Really?" I replied. And so...?

"So that means half the people in the U.S. are the perfect target for our new product."

Hold it, you're not saying....

"We're going to target all those people who are not buying fruit juice and..."

"Excuse me," I said. "You mean you are not going to target a juice product to people who buy juice? You want to target it to the people who don't?"

"Yes," he said, with the pride of those who believe they are thinking 'outside the box' but are really thinking inside their ass. "Look at the enormous opportunity."

"May I ask a question?" I asked. "Why do you think these people don't buy fruit juice?"

"Because... some bullshit about convenience.... or some other bullshit about marketing... or some more bullshit about engagement...." he replied.

"No, you fucking moron, it's because they don't fucking like it, you stupid fuck." Is what I wanted to say.
But being the gentleman that I am, I just farted and left the room.

Oh, we didn't get the account and the product died in about 10 minutes. 


Glen from Sydney. said...

Bob, today I was briefed to "make sure it doesn't look like an ad. Our consumers prefer to edit their own content and ads turn them off". On his card it says he's a Marketing Director so I guess he must be good at it.

Jonas Hansson said...

This made my day! Thanks!

George Tannenbaum said...

We keep idiot-proofing our work.
They keep turning out better idiots.

Doug said...

I love a good fart joke.

bob hoffman said...

Who doesn't?

Bruce Braun said...

Was this the same guy who proposed the idea that Coke only had to sell one can of coke to everyone in China......?

Patrick Scullin said...

The only problem with marketing is consumers. If these goddamn people would just do was we want them to, it'd be so much easier.

Eccles9 said...

The well-timed postern blast is truly the ultimate method for expressing appropriate levels of disdain as one exits such a meeting.

Jaycee said...

I had one tell me he could write better copy than what we presented. He meant the Greek on the comp.

Cecil B DeMille said...

That something must be "idiot proofed" is rather proof that the activity is doomed to failure, right?

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