March 06, 2013

A Note From A Friend

For all my whining and complaining, I have to admit that I've met some of my favorite people in the world in advertising. I have received a lot of very nice messages since I announced I was leaving my agency last week. This is one of my favorites. It makes me proud. It came from Jason Headley, a great writer -- I mean a real writer, as in novels, essays and screenplays -- director, and terrific person. I asked him if I could publish it and he agreed, Here it is.


For a guy who had all of his emotions removed in 1997, I had an oddly emotional reaction to reading this. Apparently, I'm going to have to go in for a clean up.

I know I've told you this story once before, but it's worth putting in writing. When I first moved to California with nothing more than a science degree, a guitar, and a dream, I answered a newspaper ad that said, "Sales & Marketing Position: No Experience Necessary." Certain I was still somehow under-qualified, I called. The next day I was driving around the city with a guy who was a door-to-door liar. He had a bunch of shitty art prints in the trunk of his car (the kind that have a giant, white border around them with "Picasso" or whatever written at the bottom). He was going into random offices and telling people that they were leftover from a remodel down the street, that they'd ended up with too many prints and his boss told him to just go unload them at cost. We did this all day. It was embarrassing. I was more embarrassed when someone actually bought one. I was twenty-two and fresh off the turnip truck and I knew better.

I saw a lot of offices that day. Legal offices, dentist offices, insurance offices, just plain old run-of-the-mill office offices. Then we walked into an office that actually looked pretty lively. It was light, airy, colorful. There were young people walking around. Maybe even a pretty girl or two. While my guide for the day was trying to sell framed snake oil to your office manager, I asked the girl at the front desk, "What do you guys do here?" And she said, "We're an advertising agency."

It was Hoffman/Lewis.

I went home that night and reworked my "resume" to make it look like I knew anything about anything having remotely to do with advertising. Then I got a phone book, looked up every ad agency in the city, and got to faxing. I sent that sad slip of paper to everyone in town. Two people called me in for interviews. One place offered me a job as an Account Coordinator. The other offered me a job as the mail boy. After hearing about the details and responsibilities of each position, I chose the mail boy job. I had some dignity, after all.

But that was it. I was in advertising. And while I didn't get an offer from Hoffman/Lewis in that first go-round, I still owe/blame you to this day for my career.

Years later when I started freelancing for you guys, it was pretty special to me. And when you and Sharon offered to bring me on, it was terribly flattering. I walk in and out of a lot of different buildings in this town, but your agency was one of the few where I truly felt welcome and comfortable. As close to a home as I had. I meet a lot of people with a lot of opinions in this business, but yours was always one I respected and considered fully and completely. I always appreciated when you made my work better. I was always proud when you saw my side of things. And I always liked that we could occasionally view things differently but still view each other the same. That's a good way to go about it.

I don't know what Hoffman/Lewis will be to me now that you're leaving and Sharon's gone and Jimmy's gone. It was a great port in an often tumultuous storm out there. I will miss that.

I hope you'll still find the time for a big, boozy lunch with me now and again. If nothing else, it's a fun thing to get to put on our calendars.

Until then.



The Czar Dictates said...

Great, but did they buy the poster?

Chris S. said...

This may be the way to save the industry, you know.

Academia consistently churns out unprepared marketers instead of actual thinking advertisers. We may have better luck in the long run just nicking the dumbfounded people who wander into agencies than hiring out of college.

At least the stragglers know what they want and are willing to learn.

Sharon said...

He's a mensch.

Paul Benjou said...

This made my day

Sheriff Shooter said...

very touching