I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. A chief executive of an agency getting his dick out on the beach at Monte Carlo. A client lying about research results to swing a pitch. A famous planner getting his dick out at every agency party for five years. A legendary CEO pitching to clients: "Tell us the idea you most liked from another agency and we’ll make it for less money."
Clients claiming to be involved in world-famous ideas that they tried as hard as possible to kill. A CEO pitching to a client and including "easy parking" on a list of the agency’s positives. A famous creative director acting as a consultant on an alcohol brand who was drunk every day at 9am; and the clients listening politely to their slurred opinions. A famous Hollywood star pulling out of a shoot at 9am on the day of the shoot – saying that if we wanted him, he’d "probably be in the gym".
Clients coming into a pitch having to step over somebody lying drunk in reception. A pre-production meeting collapsing into chaos because a well-known comedian wanted to wear a false moustache and the client refused to allow that because of the product’s "food values". That product being Pot Noodle. A pitch where the brand name was misspelled throughout the entire presentation. A creative having a nervous breakdown on a shoot and tattooing the words "the client is a c*nt" on his shoulder. Then wearing a vest for the entire shoot.
A client looking at a storyboard and asking "How will we know the woman in frame five is the same as the woman in frame two?" and receiving the answer "Because she will be". Being asked if I wanted a line of coke by someone whose nose was bleeding profusely over the cocaine at the time. A top client falling asleep and snoring loudly in a pitch. Being flown to a yacht in the Mediterranean on a private jet by a client who told me I was wasting his money. Seeing somebody impersonate me on stage at a conference in South Africa. That person being so drunk that they fell over and I had to climb on stage and give the speech myself.
Being told by a client that a joke about OJ Simpson in a script was a fireable offence, because Simpson was "a fucking murderer". (Two things may be relevant here: Simpson was acquitted, and the joke was a good one.) Hearing that a client had blown out an ad featuring Bob Dylan because they "didn’t like Bob Dylan’s words".
More bullying, back-stabbing, lying and philistinism than I’d ever wish to see in seven lifetimes. And more laughs than nine seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm. And, of course, it goes without saying that all those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain.
Steve Henry is the co-founder of Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury