Mick Dean loves wine.
He likes to know all the details about where it comes from, what sort of grape, what sort of soil, what sort of climate, how it’s aged, how it’s stored, how it’s bottled, how that affects the taste.
In short, wine is Mick’s hobby.
Mick loves to go to wine auctions.
One particular auction was the contents of The Earl Of Kintore’s cellar.
Mick noticed there were several cases of Sherry from 1846.
He didn’t think he could afford it, but he thought he’d bid anyway, you never know.
The bidding started at something ridiculous, like £30 a case.
Mick offered £35.
He waited for someone else to offer more.
“Going once, going twice, sold.”
And Mick became the owner of several cases of 150 year old sherry. For under £3 a bottle.
To celebrate, Mick thought he’d open one.
He carefully took the cork out.
He couldn’t resist a glass while he let the bottle breathe.
Mick slowly sipped it.
He said it was one of the best things he’d ever tasted.
Like drinking history.
While he sipped it, he thought of everything that had happened since it was bottled.
In 1846, Germany didn’t even exist as a country, neither did Italy, nor the Soviet Union.
Telephones, gramophones, radios, cars, planes, television, computers, votes for women, didn’t exist.
And the only vehicles were horses.
After he finished the glass he poured another.
But this time it tasted foul, like vinegar.
Mick couldn’t work it out.
The wine wasn’t bad when he opened it.
But within minutes it tasted sour and awful.
Mick opened another bottle just to check.
Sure enough this one tasted like absolute nectar.
Then he had another glass and it was vile.
Suddenly it dawned on Mick.
What was happening was exposure to the air.
After 150 years in an airtight bottle, immediately the fresh air hit the sherry, it started to go off really fast.
You know the scene in horror movies?
The explorers go into the Egyptian tomb and a mummy comes to life.
Then someone opens a door, the fresh air rushes in, and immediately it turns to dust.
That’s what was happening to Mick’s wine.
Mick decided there was only one thing to do.
He invited a few friends round who also loved wine.
He told everyone to get ready.
Then he opened a bottle and quickly poured them each a glass.
Before it could go off, they drank it.
Then they opened another bottle, and repeated the process.
They had to consume each bottle immediately it was open.
It couldn’t survive contact with the air.
We assume everything can be stored and put away until we’re ready to take it out.
But it isn’t always like that.
Ideas often don’t keep.
At GGT, a young art director was convinced he’d found a technique so new it would win him a D&AD award.
He wouldn’t tell anyone what it was.
He kept it locked away, waiting for the day he’d use it.
Eventually, about two years later, he managed to work it into a script.
He put it on my desk along with everyone else’s work.
I went through all the work and told everyone we didn’t have anything yet, so keep going.
One of the other guys quietly said to me “You know that technique he’s been saving? Well you just went straight past it.”
I went back to look at the work again.
I couldn’t see anything special.
He pointed, and said “That one there.”
I read the script again.
I said “But at least two other agencies have done that already.”
He said “I know, but because he wouldn’t show anyone we couldn’t tell him.”
And that was that.
Two years wasted, saving something that turned to dust as soon as the fresh air hit it.
Use it or lose it.