March 01, 2010

The Revolting Taste Of Sour Grapes

A million years ago, FCB in San Francisco was the largest ad agency office west of the Mississippi. The guy who ran the creative department was named Mike Koelker. Mike did some incredible work, particularly for Levi's, when that brand was on top of the world.

I never worked for or with Mike, but I did have the good fortune to meet him socially. He was a very smart guy. One day a group of us were talking about movies. We were all saying this movie is shitty and that movie is crappy...the usual bullshit.

After we were through being experts, Mike said, "I admire all movies. Knowing what I know about making a :30 tv spot, I can't imagine how any movie gets made. Anyone who can do that has my respect."

I feel that way today about independent ad agencies. Between the dual blights of conglomeratization and recession, anyone who's making it as an independent has my admiration. Believe me, I know how tough it is.

Whenever we're pitching against another independent and one of my team denigrates them, I say, "Amigo, all the dumb ones are gone. The only ones left are smart."

Why am I telling you this? Because last week I wanted to kill someone.

We recently won a nice piece of business. We worked our asses off and did a good job.

The new business guy from one of the loser independent agencies (who didn't even come in second) wrote a very nasty post on his blog. It insulted my agency and it insulted the client.

We all feel lousy when we lose a pitch. Most of us, however, understand that we're going to lose more than we win and are grown-up enough to take our losses in stride.

This guy wasn't. He wrote the kind of snide, childish, amateurish nonsense that someone looking to defend his failure to his management would write. Someone with decency, however, wouldn't put this trash on a blog.

What this guy probably doesn't know is that we had recommended his agency on a few occasions to clients we couldn't handle. Never again.

I can forgive, but I can't forget.

If You Haven't Seen This...
...don't miss it. From BusinessWeek, The Toyota Witch Hunt. (Full disclosure: Toyota's a client)

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