Bob and I did some pretty darned good advertising at Leo Burnett, long before anyone had ever heard the phrase “branded entertainment”.
One or both of us were entertaining the great unwashed with spots like “Northing But Net”, “Perfect Season”, and “Sign”. (See www.jimbobdallas.com). Big, famous commercials are what we did. Mostly for McDonald’s.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many McDonald’s spots our group produced over a five year period. One year alone, we produced over 100 commercials. We sold pizza in a cup. Square pizza! Peppermint Shakes for Christmas. Pumpkin Pie. Shamrock shakes for St. Patty’s Day. A Steak Sandwich for “a new kinda cowboy”. All white meat chicken McNuggets. Double and Triple Cheeseburgers. Chicken McNuggets Shanghai. Even a sliced pineapple sandwich. The test kitchen never ran out of ideas.
The amount of work that went out to Oak Brook every Friday morning was mind boggling. Hundreds of storyboards, radio spots and print ads. The Creative Review Board, or CRB as we called them, could go on for hours. Thank goodness there was a McDonald’s on the third floor that delivered.
During the CRBs, it wasn’t uncommon for creatives to do magic tricks and juggle. Others played the guitar and sang. Once, an entire group dressed in NASCAR pit uniforms and acted out their boards. (Bob and I could neither sing nor juggle, so we just presented smart, good ideas and sat down.)
The only sanity to the insanity that was McDonald’s was our client Roy Bergold…a man who loved great advertising and expensive red wine. I once tried to get Roy into the Guiness Book of World’s Records as the man who approved more advertising than any man alive. Counting just the national ads, Roy had approved over 20,000 ads during his tenure as Head of Advertising. I worked for a year, but could never make it happen. Dang!
Back to the CRB, if you please. This is how it worked: The agency would present its work to a room full of McDonald’s marketing folks. It was usually SRO. Roy took notes. Roy would ask for an agency recommendation. More notes. Then he would go around the room, starting with the Brand Manager, all the way up to the CMO, Paul Schrage, asking them the same question, “Thoughts?” Notes and more notes. They would all say what they liked or didn’t like about the campaign presented. It could be brutal. No holds barred. I saw many a creative reduced to tears during the meeting. Some vowed never to come back.
Roy NEVER looked up from the notes he was taking.
He’d ask the agency again for its recommendation. One last chance to fall on a sword, if you will.
Finally, Roy would look up and say the magic words, “This is what we’re going to do.”
Roy knew his brand and trusted his gut.