An account man came into my office and put some ads on the desk.
He said, “The client wouldn’t buy them.”
I said, “Why?”
He raised his eyebrows and said, “I don’t really know.”
I said, “Did you ask?”
He puffed out his cheeks and said, “I didn’t think it was my place.”
I said, “Well do you have any idea?”
He sighed, shrugged and said, “Not really.”
I said, “Nothing that can help us?”
He was getting really bored, he said, “Afraid not. Sorry.”
I said, “Okay thanks.”
When he’d left I called his boss in.
She sat down.
I said, “What the fuck is going on, on this account?
We can’t sell an ad, and we can’t even be fucking bothered to find out why the client doesn’t want it.
And yet it’s on brief and it’s been through research.
What are we, a fucking shop?
Do we just keep showing the client different ads in different sizes and shapes until he sees something he fancies?
Does the creative department have to keep cranking out ads as a substitute for account handling being able to sell them?”
She said, “It shouldn’t be that way.
The ad was on brief, I checked it before it went.
I’ll call the client and find out what’s going on.
I’ll get back to you with a reason why this one is wrong or a new brief.
And next time I’ll take it down to the client myself.”
And she left.
The art director, who’d been sitting there watching this, sat up.
He said, “I don’t understand. The account man, who got us into this in the first place, behaved like a prick and you were polite to him.
His boss handled it properly and she got a bollocking.”
I said, “He’s useless. He’s been here several months and everything we give him turns to shit. He doesn’t care.
He thinks he knows it all and he doesn’t want to learn.
There’s no point in wasting breath bollocking him. He won’t be here much longer.
But his boss, well she’s really good.
That’s how she got to be his boss.
It’s worthwhile having a row with her because she’s got a brain and she cares. She’s going to be here a long while and she’s part of this company’s future.”
A few years after that exchange, I read an interview with a famous American Football star.
He talked about when he was a rookie.
It was his first day at the club.
In training the coach spent all day reaming him out, non-stop.
He couldn’t do a thing right.
The kid was totally destroyed.
He went back to the locker room thinking his career was over.
He sat on the bench with his head in his hands.
One of the older players slapped him on the back.
He said, “Looks like you’ve got a great future ahead of you kid.
I’ve never heard the coach spend that much time chewing anyone out .
Normally, if he thinks they can’t improve, he just doesn’t talk to them. But you, boy, I guess he thinks you’re gonna be great.”