This post is dedicated to Peppercommer Carl “Union Jack” Foster.
This past Summer was beyond bizarre in so many ways for me personally, my agency and my country (Note: I have papers proving I’m an American citizen).
Today’s bizarre subject is the alarming rise of absolutely deplorable conduct on the part of prospects. It’s always existed but, like certain campaign rallies, seems to have reached a crescendo in the past few months.
Here’s the most recent example:
Prospect invites us to pitch a major new product/service offering. Tells us we’re on the short list. Puts us on a tight time frame to prepare the pitch and emphasizes two critical needs: a highly creative launch idea and extensive media experience.
Prospect team (including the company president) shows up at our digs.
Presentation goes swimmingly. Prospect, especially the president, loves our “big idea”.
Meeting concludes with CMO saying, “Impressive, but let’s ideate on a really big idea. What other thoughts do you have to share?”
We asked for a few hours, and promised we’d cook-up another kick-ass idea (all gratis, needless to say).
And, we did. It was brilliant. It dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s of every single strategic parameter the prospect hoped to achieve on launch day.
We immediately sent the CMO our idea.
And, that was that. No response. No “Thanks for the quick turnaround. We’ll review and revert” (one of my all-time favorite consultant-speak phrases, BTW.) No nothing.
Our point person sent a follow-up note to see if the CMO had any questions. No response. I already knew in my heart of hearts that we were dead (because this sort of deplorable prospect behavior has become de rigeur).
The days passed. The silence was deafening (I’d love to know who coined that phrase. Positively brilliant).
Cutting to the chase, our point person continued to e-mail, leave voice mails and do everything short of showing up in the lobby of the prospect’s building and ambushing the CMO on the way in or out (I may still make him do so, but ask that he videotape the prospect’s response. Guarantee it would be YouTube-worthy).
And, here we are. Weeks after that one meeting and that one request for one big idea.
I’d kill to out this prospect and list the CMO as positively toxic to agencies.
A.) That’s not the way I play the game.
B) If I actually did so, I’d be entering the deplorable zone since myself since it would hurt the CMO’s image and reputation.
And, so these deplorable prospects continue to roam our streets footloose and fancy-free with no repercussions whatsoever for putting an agency through the ringer, picking their brain and undoubtedly implanting their ideas themselves.
These are the stories you won’t read about in PR trades (who continue to portray our industry as a latter-day Shangri-La).
But, kids, these are the trials and tribulations that are a reality of the agency world. Sadly, they mirror the very same type of deplorable conduct we’re seeing in the country as a whole.