By The Big Guy
Have you ever been in the room? What room? THE room. If you’ve ever been in the room, you’d know it. Most every company in every profession has one. It’s the room where the important decisions are made. It’s where all sorts of things move ahead or are killed off. In a law office it might be where partners decide if taking on a new client and the fees they would provide is worth the risk of possible bad publicity. At a television network it might be where a pilot for a new television program is viewed for the first time and its fate is decided. In an advertising agency it might be where a newly filmed commercial or maybe a storyboard for a potential new campaign is presented. Let’s talk about that advertising one because that’s the one I know about. I’ve been in the room – a lot.
In the room is where the big shot creative director takes a look at the latest airline commercial that's been filmed, turns to the group and says, “Well, I think we successfully proved that we can pull all the logistics together, film on board one of the newest, most modern aircraft in the world and make it look like the inside of a bus.” In the room is where a big shot who needs to put his imprimatur on everything that’s done looks at a one minute long commercial with forty short scenes in it and thinks that if you make one scene a fifteenth of a second longer and the scene next to it a fifteenth of a second shorter it will turn a mediocre commercial into an award winner. In the room is where the Father’s Day commercial that’s all about a daughter taking her dad to breakfast is questioned because there’s no mom in the commercial and it makes the dad look divorced, even though the commercial as presented and approved before filming never had a mom in it. Sadly, none of the above examples are made up.
So, why bring this up? Quite frankly, partly because it’s cathartic and I just needed to put it out there. And partly because you need to understand all the stupid things that go on in the room, the stupid things that are said, and the stupid marching orders that are passed along, in order to be able to appropriately make fun of the bad advertising on television, which is probably not more than say ninety to ninety-five percent of it. People who have not been in the room have no idea what it takes to get something out of the room alive. As I’ve said so many times before, in advertising any day you don’t get killed is a good day. And then you get to go home and do it again the next day.
Oh, and I owe you this postscript, also completely true. Showed the sixty second commercial with the forty scenes in it to the big shot the next day exactly as he had seen it the day before, except for the fact that the word “Revised” had been added to the label on the videotape. “You see,” he says, “doesn’t that make a world of difference?”
Yes. Yes it does.