Just Asking

Calling the client by the wrong name. I was in a KFC meeting and kept referring to them as McDonald’s. This was years ago at Young & Rubicam. They just kept correcting me every time and were laughing. —Jim Ferguson, chairman and chief creative officer, TM Advertising in Irving, Texas

Pitching the Queensland Pineapple Growers’ Association. Sydney, 1973, at Ogilvy & Mather. We’re presenting all the ads, and there’s one guy nodding at everything, saying, “That’s fantastic!” So we focus on him. [At lunch] we go up to him and say, “So what’s your role with the pineapple board?” “Nothing,” he says. “I’m their pilot.” —Ross Sutherland, ecd, Young & Rubicam in New York

[About 12 years ago, I pitched] Avia, a brand of athletic footwear. We worked on our first meet-and-greet with the client for about three weeks. We set up all these rooms to talk about different facets of the agency with props and stuff. Then the client shows up. We soon realize the client isn’t interested in hearing about us. We’d done no research to talk about their business. They never called us back. —Tracy Wong, cd, chairman and founding partner, WongDoody in Seattle

One time, we flew to London for the Doc Marten’s pitch. We had done hundreds of hours of work and had created three hilarious, fully integrated campaigns to relaunch the brand. And when I finished, everyone was laughing except the head client. He was stone-faced and said, “That’s just it—we’re not funny.” I now find great comedy in that statement. —Guy Seese, ecd, Cole & Weber/Red Cell in Seattle

About three years ago, I stood up in a pitch to present, and my shirttail was sticking out of my unzipped fly. We still won the business. —Neil Powell, cd, Powell in New York