#220 In which our hero is part of a well-received presentation, the accolades of which swell his head considerably.
I had a rather unique experience last week.
At the advertising agency for which I work, we have monthly agency meetings. These are generally an opportunity for the President to stand up and say inspirational things to us, detail what new business we’re pitching, introduce new employees, celebrate anniversaries and the like. We often have a case study, too; something cool or interesting that the agency did for a client recently that bares sharing.
I was tapped to present a case study at last week’s meeting.
This isn’t a big deal for me, I’ve spoken in front of crowds before. And even though I still get a little nervous beforehand, I’m a pretty decent public speaker. Besides, it wouldn’t just be me, it would be the entire team who worked on the project. My part would only cover the actual creative stuff, and I’d present that along with the art director I worked with.
Now, in the past, I’ve been very careful about talking about clients and client work on this blog, because I don’t want it to come back and bite me in the ass. But it’s going to be hard for this story to make any sense unless I reveal some details. So… promise not to tell anyone else, okay?
The client in question is a major manufacturer of rubber products. Headquartered in Akron, OH. (Figure it out yet? Famous for its tires? Rhymes with “hood deer”?) Anyway, we don’t actually work for their major division (ie., tires), we do work for one of their affiliated smaller companies. This one in particular produces consumer and industrial belts and hoses (as in hoses for your car or for steam cleaning machines, stuff like that. Not just garden hoses, even though they do make those, too). The project was to stage a big event at a major industry trade show for hose.
What’s that? A trade show just for hoses? You bet your ass. I had no idea before working on this account just how big a business industrial hose really is. And there’s plenty of distributors out there trafficking in hoses and accessories--so much so, that there’s a trade organization that only deals in hoses and they have this big conference every year and on and on…
So this trade show is a big deal. And while there’s the typical big convention center room with booths displaying new products, the real draw is the after-hours parties. This is where our client (and the other manufacturers) rent out a room in the convention center and throw a big ‘ole party. Of course it’s a big smooze-fest so the client can wine and dine their customers without having to take them out one at a time.
The client puts a lot of stock into this event, so we need to blow it out, make it impressive. So every year there’s a theme, and the entire party/event revolves around the theme.
The theme we choose for this year’s event was “magic.” We paid this off by transforming the suite into an old-tyme magic hall circa 1900. Think Harry Houdini or the movie “The Prestige.”
We got to work creating a bunch of elements to create this mysterious feel. We sent out a pre-event “save the date” mailer which included instructions on how to do a simple card trick; we sent out another mailer right before the show reminding the client’s customers of the big party; we created in-room gifts for the attendees which included a magic wand, a customized Magic 8-Ball, “tickets” to a performance by the magician (“One night and one night only!”), a “magic” pen, and a few other odds and ends, all collected inside a black top hat. Pretty cool.
But once you got into the room itself is when you got to see the really cool stuff. One of our major tasks is to set up exciting and engaging displays of the actual products. This is no small feat, considering that the products are hoses. I’m sure they work really well… but they’re not that interesting to look at. So, what we did was create displays that were meant to look like magician’s props or tricks. We had a water-filled display that looked his Houdini’s famous Chinese Water Torture Cell with a hose (a hydraulic hose, get it?) suspended in it; another display featured a hose that was spiraling out of a wicker basket so that it looks like a snake charmer’s trick; another high-temp hose was suspected above “fire,” and so on. Beside each display was a big poster in the style of the posters of the time, full of hyperbole and carnival barker-esque patter. These were a whole lot of fun to write.
Anyway, at the agency meeting we went through the process we used to come up with the concept, mentioned all the elements, and showed a bunch of photos of all the stuff. The presentation was well received… people laughed at all the right places.
But here’s the crazy part.
When we were showing the displays and their accompanying posters, I read the copy to one of the posters out loud (since it was in a PowerPoint slide you couldn’t really read past the headline from the audience). Now, the copy on the posters were a fun combination of attributes the client wanted to get across and the crazy claims I came up with. MARVEL as this hose withstands temperatures up to 350 degrees F and QUAKE IN FEAR at its working pressure of up to 450 psi… and so on.
So I read this poster in my best sideshow barker voice and when I’m done, the audience actually applauds. I actually have to stop talking because people are applauding so loudly that they can’t hear me.
Needless to say, this has never happened to me before. I mean, I’ve had people tell me, hey, that’s a cool ad or great job on that radio or whatever; but I’ve never had 200 people applaud my copy before. Crazy.
Anyway, the kudos just kept rolling in after the presentation. People said that it was the best presentation at an agency meeting EVER. It all totally went to my head.
But, that was last week, and the realities and deadlines of this week are already bringing me back to earth. There’s not a lot of room between “Hey, you’re the guy who gave that great presentation” to “Hey! You’re the dick that missed my deadline!”
But, for one brief shining moment, I was the star of the show.
Now, back to work.