Expense claim for creative director, week commencing 18 June:
1 return BA business class to Nice;
27 bottles of rose wine;
15 packs of cigarettes;
80 beers @ Martinez price;
18 bottles of Champagne @ Martinez price;
42 gin and tonics @ Martinez price;
4 lunches at the Majestic Beach;
3 return taxis to St Paul de Vence;
4 nights at the Carlton;
1 helicopter ride.
All in all a grand total of pounds 9,602. Ridiculous, isn't it?
Everyone's beaten to a pulp by redundancies and budget cuts and you
still need almost ten grand to match everyone else's four days on the
Cote d'Azur. As I write this it's too early to know the film winners,
but if John West's "bear" commercial by Leo Burnett doesn't bag a Lion
or even the Grand Prix, there's no justice in the world.
From one ridiculous party to a man who, in his own words, is no party
animal. Dan Wieden, interviewed in this week's issue, is a walking
embodiment of two of the secrets of successful agencies. First, all of
them are, or have been, led by people who make the bearer of bad tidings
feel intimidated - including the journalist who wants to ask the tricky
question, and especially the client who wants to fire them.
The calm certainty with which these people discuss their principles -
and, yes, they are all riddled with them - renders it almost impossible
to contradict them without losing one's composure. It is an effect that
I'm sure is unintentional, but it is nevertheless incredibly potent.
The other thing that unites these people is that they are not afraid of
failure. In Wieden's case, he realises that his desire to avoid being a
coloured pin on somebody's corporate world map makes him likely to
remain niche. But where other agencies leave risk-taking to rinky-dink
advertisers with tiny budgets (and conveniently forget the risk and
waste involved in running advertising that is either not noticed or
actively disliked), he takes risks on big clients and lives with the
consequences. He seems actively to encourage failure with his talk of
tension sparking creativity.
Wieden's mission to help big companies to listen to a new kind of
consumer makes more sense then ever. Everyone in this business ought to
be acquainted with the Cluetrain Manifesto. It consists of 95 theses
embodying the voice of a new kind of consumer, one who is media savvy
and angry as hell. For them, markets consist of human beings, not
demographic sectors. If you want them to talk to you, tell them
something, make it interesting.
In the scheme of things, with everyone bracing themselves for worse
economic times and even those agencies who do not usually make
redundancies being forced to cut staff, Cannes seems to take on a new
insignificance and the words of Wieden and the Cluetrain Manifesto
assume greater importance than ever.