I was reading a book by A.J.Liebling, about entering Paris in 1944.
He was going in alongside a column of allied tanks.
“The Germans, rightly calculating that the allies would never bomb them in Paris, had dismantled all their anti-aircraft defences in the zone, and the weapons taken from those installations gave them an abundance of the deadliest kind of ant-tank artillery.
Rommel, it is now known, had wanted to bring this forward months earlier and use it on the battlefield, but he had been overruled. Anti-aircraft belonged to the Luftwaffe, the Luftwaffe belonged to Goering, and Goering hated Rommel.”
What that refers to is the 88mm anti-aircraft guns, which were also the world’s best anti-tank guns, much better than anything the allies had.
The Germans had positioned thousands of them in and around Paris against air attack.
When it occurred to them that the allies wouldn’t be bombing Paris, it made perfect sense to use them as anti-tank guns instead.
But, as anti-aircraft guns, they were under the control of the Luftwaffe.
Goering was in charge of the Luftwaffe and hated Rommel, so he refused to let him change their use to anti-tank guns.
But surely that’s mad, they’re supposed to be on the same side wanting the same result.
True, but politics and ego made Goering blind to that, it’s a very human failing.
At GGT, we had the Cadbury’s account, we were making lots of films for different brands: Dairy Milk, Wholenut, Flake, Double Decker, Crème Eggs, etc.
The client said he wanted a common-line to go on the end of every ad, about how Cadbury’s chocolate was superior to the competition.
The line he wanted was, “Cadbury: the chocolate, the taste” to run on the end of every ad.
I thought the idea made sense, but I had a problem with the line, if he wanted it to do a job for Cadbury, against the competition, it needed stronger branding, it needed a mnemonic to root in consumer’s brains.
The trouble with ‘the chocolate, the taste’ was it could be for anyone: Mars – the chocolate, the taste. Nestle – the chocolate, the taste. Hershey – the chocolate the taste.
I told him he needed a line that had a mnemonic.
We should have the name written in chocolate (as it was on their chocolate bars) and then the line: “Cadbury – Chocolate with a capital C”.
You couldn’t remember that for anyone else: Mars: Chocolate with a capital C – nope. Nestle: Chocolate with a capital C – nope. Hershey: Chocolate with a capital C – nope.
I tried explaining that to the client, but he wasn’t having it.
He turned it down, “So you’re saying what makes that a better line is just that it begins with the same letter as Cadburys?”
And I wanted to shout, “FFS – Yes, of course”.
But we don’t do that to clients, we let them have their way, and he turned it down.
Later I asked Mike Greenlees why he did that, it was clearly a much better line.
Mike, who was an account man, said “He wanted to show his people he’s not going to be told what to do by Dave Trott.”
But surely, I thought, we’re supposed to be on the same side.
Surely ego and politics won’t get in the way of the best solution?
But Mike explained to me that we’re not here to come up with the right answer.
We’re here to keep client happy.