Friday, August 6, 2010

"Make believe it is vanilla ice cream...''

One of the terrific things about my job was the access I had to some of my bosses, some were almost legends in the business. They were just a phone call away. Obviously you could not abuse this, when you were in real trouble, make that call; If you didn’t, and could not solve the problem, they always said’’How come you didn’t call, I could have fixed it.’'

We were in the situation of losing a large international client when I was in Madrid. We were pitching against four agencies. We made the call, the head of Europe flies in and sets up a meeting with the client, who flew in from Germany, for the meeting.

I and the Spanish chairman are not allowed to attend the dinner.
We hang out at the hotel, really nervous, but optimistic that Phil will solve it.

He comes in at 12:30 am, and we head for the bar. He tells us it is all fixed, I have to develop a campaign that can be used throughout Europe, and we have to give the client a German speaking account guy. Phil is feeling very smug about his sucess.

I only had to beat 4 agencies in Spain to keep the business, now I have to create a campaign for all of Europe, thanks a lot Phil.

We kept the business, I did not create a campaign for Europe, I just beat 4 agencies in Spain and Phil takes credit for saving the account for us, maybe he did. If I didn’t call him and we lost it, we never would hear the end of it, even though for the next 6 months he kept reminding us of how he saved our ass on Henkel.

Years later I am working in Mexico, difficult client, brilliant but really rough on the Agency. I am at my wits end, he keeps sending shit our way, about everything, the work, the commission, the people, anything he can think about.

I pick up the phone and call our international chairman, a legend in the business.

‘’Gene, I am eating a lot of shit on this account, what do I do?’’

This is the top guy internationally, he instantly says

’’Make believe it is vanilla ice cream and ask for another scoop.’’

That’s it? I ask. He immediately answers ‘’forty years experience kid, that’s it.’’ He hangs up.



  1. I love it. If you think about it it's a phsycologically brilliant answer. It would be exactly what the Mexican client would want to do.

    Great story.

  2. he is a wise man.nice story again greg.!

  3. Worked for me dealing with the government bureaucrats who funded us...