All The Boards Did Shrink

Johnson Gray’s staff may be wringing out their pants, but their efforts paid off.

The Newport Beach, Calif., agency pitched the Orange County Tourism Council with a flood theme, meant to indicate that a flood of tourism (get it?) would arrive under the shop’s guidance. The idea gave life to care packages sent to the council that consisted of life preservers and a bright orange “emergency flood kit.” But the warm glow of creative satisfac tion quickly grew cold.

Agency principal Will Johnson rolled in to work at 8 a.m. the day of the final pitch only to find the prod uction, traffic and creative departments flooded for real—victims of a renegade pipe that leaked after the city replaced water meters and incorrectly set the timer.

Meanwhile, sitting in the parking lot, a tad mockingly, were oodles of flood supplies, including flashing “caution” signs and several tons of sandbags.

The shop went ahead with the pitch, sheepishly leading 15-20 council board members over soggy carpets and up to the third-floor conference room.

“I wouldn’t have wished this on myself,” says Johnson. “But all I could do was laugh. They definitely enjoyed the effort we put into the whole flood theme.”

The shop lost $10-15,000 worth of brochures but won the heart of the tourism council—and its account, worth $750,000 a year for five years.