Archive for May, 2010

Portfolio Night of Hell

Monday, May 24th, 2010

poster-portfolio-night-webFirst and foremost, and right off the bat, I would like to thank Serge and the Latin Works folks in Austin for inviting me to participate in Portfolio night 8 last Thursday night.

I had a great time. However, a number of the participants didn’t. Without even attempting to be mean, I somehow brought two young ladies to tears and another young gentlemen to shake so violently he dropped his cocktail. I was called the Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsey of Portfolio Night. I however, prefer, the Dr. Phil…

Let me just start by saying, overall I thought the work was ordinary at best. There was one wonderful print campaign from a young lady named Miranda, an intern at Latin Works, for a 24 Hour Fitness club in Austin. I loved it. But that was it, one campaign.

What puzzled me most, were the lack of great ideas. There was a lot of “wacky” executions, but no smart thinking. Lots of nasty headlines, but no real insights into the brands. It’s as if, there had never seen a strategy in their entire collegiate career.

I brought the two young ladies to tears because both of them showed up at my station…Number 5, without their laptops (which I hate!) booted up and ready to go. Quite frankly, I was not interested in listening to their stories of college frat parties and summer vacations or the agency they would like to work at. I wanted to see their portfolio. When they could not produce them in a timely manner, I sent them on their way. But not before I let them know how “disappointed” I was. The kid who shook like a puppy trying to shit a peach seed, out right lied to me. When I realized he was trying to blow smoke up my ass, I closed his book and told him to hit the road. “If you were in my agency right now, I would fire you and throw you down the elevator shaft,” I said, “Now haul ass.” What? I said “hit the bricks, buster.” After the show, he apologized. I sat back down with him and looked at his book. I would have never hired him in the first place.

I had asked him, if he’d ever used the product. He said yes. I asked him how it worked. He stuttered. I asked again. How does it work? He then said, “I’ve never used it.” “You’re fired,” was my response. Using a few selected pronouns followed by even more verbs, I explained how is actions would have gone over in a new business meeting. The agency, meaning me, would have caught total hell from a client or never given the business by a prospective client. Either way, the outcome would have been fiscally damaging for JimBob_Dallas. I was not happy.

Somehow the word circled though the venue that I was a prick. For the rest of the night, I sat alone, watching Joe Shands for Vendor critque book after book. I even announced once that I was available. No one even attempted to make eye contact with me.

I wanted these kids to know what it’s like to interview for a job. I asked tough guestions and wanted smarts answers. I wanted know why there was no logo in their ads. Did they feel like they were ready to start to work immediately upon stepping into an agency. I asked who influenced their work. But mostly I wanted them to answer this simple question, “why is your book so fucking bad.”

Along with being taught good from bad, colleges should also teach students to show up ready to go, don’t lie, and know how to write to a strategy/brief. Is that too much to ask?

Apparently, so.

Doug’s Jim

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

IMG_1381The guy to the left of the fat guy wearing Jim Ferguson’s clothes is Doug. Doug is the owner of Doug’s Gym on Commerce Street in Dallas, which is behind the world wide offices of JimBob_Dallas.

Last week I ran into Doug at the Metropolitan Cafe, a neighborhood eatery that specializes in really good comfort food. I eat there alot. Ask for Mike.

While there, Doug told me he was going to save my life. So I listened. He is 80 years old and says he has never taken out health insurance or been to the doctor. Exercise is the only medicine he needs. And, he believes that I need a few doses of the same Rx. He is in amazing shape, except for a slight limp.

Since 1963, Doug has been the proprietor of Doug’s Gym. The place is looks like a Hollywood set. I loved Doug’s Gym from the moment I walked in. Old hardwood floors. Paint falling off the walls and ceiling. No fancy machines, just a lot of dumbbells, placed neatly in a row. It looks like Rocky’s gym…hot, dimly lit, a couple of fans keeping the air from going totally still. There’s no shower. No lockers. No yuppies in fancy running gear. (I asked him what I should wear. He said clothes. “You’re not here for a fashion show,” he said.) There are pictures of bodybuilders and boxers on the walls. And here and there, a couple of girly pictures. My kinda place…

Doug is great. He is not only physically fit, but also a fountain of positive talking. “You’re gonna be so damned skinny in a few months, you’ll have to hop around in the shower to get wet!”

Today, I took Doug up on his challenge to save my life. Although I am down over 24 pounds since the first of the year, he assured me that without him in my corner (he is a former cutman and boxer) that I will never reach the desired weight that I need to stay healthy. “I will be my pleasure to help you out, young fella.” I walked a bunch, lifted some weights and did a few sit ups, all while wearing a pair of sandals, my signature long-sleeve black t-shirt with a pocket, and blue jeans. “People waste too much time at gyms putting on and taking off clothes.”

I asked Doug after the workout why he’d approached me at the cafe. “You look like an old wrestling buddy of mine,” he said. “I thought you was him. Maybe God gave you to me to get you into shape like I shoulda helped him.”

I knew the answer even before I asked the question, “is he dead?”

Doug didn’t answer. All he said was, “See you tomorrow.”

Gone but not forgotten…

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Sorry no new addition to the Daily Ferg over the past couple of weeks. A move from the 4th to the 7th floor has taken up so much time.

A true “Mad Man”

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

neyWhen I was president of Young and Rubicam/New York, I was extremely fortunate to work with Ed Ney, one of the greatest ad men ever.

For those who don’t know, Mr. Ney is a living, breathing Mad Man. He was the former Chairman of Young and Rubicam, address 285 Madison Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets. He dressed the part of a Mad Man, talked the part of a Mad Man and acted the part of a Mad Man. He was always impeccably dressed and articulate. He told me more than once how much he loved the business of advertising and the people who created it, sold it and placed it. He lived in the day of the three martini lunch and when mega media deals where done over lunch at the 21.

Mr. Ney makes Don Draper look like a piker.

Along with being the former Chairman of Y&R, he was also the ambassador to Canada under Ronald Reagan. It was at the White House back in l986 where I first met Mr. Ney. The Seat Belt dummy campaign (You could learn a lot from a dummy. Buckle your safety belt) was being honored with a Silver Bell, an award that was given out by the White House for public service advertising. I remember standing next to a podium when I heard someone say, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States.” In walked President Reagan with his arm over the shoulder of a very distinguished looking man. Two buddies taking a stroll through the White House, is how it appeared to me. My boss, Ted Bell was standing next to me. Ted said, “You know who that man is?” I answered, “Ronald Reagen.” Ted said, ” The other guy.” I had no idea who the grey-haired dapper man was. Ted said, “That’s Ed Ney, chairman of Young and Rubicam.” Ted was impressed, so I was impressed. A few minutes later, Mr. Ney introduced us to the President. At that moment, I met my hero, Ronald Reagan, and the man who would become my hero, Ed Ney.

On my first day at work at Y&R, I was shocked when Mr. Ney walked into my office…but not without knocking and asking if he could come it. He said he’d heard a lot about me and wanted to wish me luck. Then, he gave me what would be many pieces of advice…”Now go do something,” he said, “cause if you don’t, they will eat you alive here.”

Mr. Ney never stopped amazing me. He was the first person to combine advertising, direct marketing and public relationship under one roof, calling it the “whole egg” theory. “Best alone, better together” is how he explained his rationale to me. “Seamless integration” seems like such a simple concept, but he did it back in the 1960s when no one was thinking that way.

From time to time, I stop by his office on the 6th Floor late and night on my way home. He would still be sitting behind his massive desk, dictating memos on his “dictaphone” and writing notes to clients.

I think I only pissed him off once, which is somekinda record for me. We were working on a project about the Lewis and Clarke Expedition. It was somekinda pro bono thing he got the agency involved in that celebrated the 200th anniversary. I asked him who he liked better, Merriweather or William, meaning Meriweather Lewis or William Clark? “What?”, he snapped. “I’m old but not that old!” I never kidded him about his age or hair color again!

In 2000, we worked on the Bush presidential campaign together. We traveled to Philadelphia for the GOP convention. It was something to behold when the elder Bush made his way through the crowd to greet Mr. Ney. I kidded him once about being the Ambassador to Canada and not someplace cool like China or France. Mr. Ney quickly explained the importance of our relationship to our neigbors to the north and how Mr. Reagan had personally asked him to take the job. Ok…

Once, we went to dinner at 21, or as he called it, “the numbers”. When we arrived at the restaurant the entrance was jammed, I mentioned to Mr. Ney that we could go always go somewhere else. About that time, the manager of the place came rushing out, “Mr. Ney, your table is ready!” Mr Ney looked at me and said, “I’ve had quite a heyday in this place.”

Today I found out that Mr. Ney (85) remarried!

The legend continues….