Man About Town

And now, ladies and gentlemen, a special journalistic moment. A goodbye. Please welcome, in his final act upon the high wire, that master of Madison Avenue’s least well-kept secrets! That overzealous, uninhibited, unapologetic tenor of our times! Mr. Man. About. Town.

Cue orchestra. Spotlight on a solitary man. Piano up.

M.A.T. [sings]: “It’s good, isn’t it? Grand, isn’t it? Great, isn’t it? Swell, isn’t it? Fun, isn’t it? Nowadays …”

Close-up on the headshot that launched a thousand sarcastic e-mails. Back to singer. Full orchestra.

M.A.T.: “Smart guys everywhere. Gals everywhere. Gifts everywhere. Life everywhere. Joy everywhere. Nowadays …”

Cut to columnist attempting to wrap up three years of commentary in 800 words.

Gift. That’s the word I’m thinking of. The dictionary says it’s “anything given; anything voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation; a present; an offering.” For me, this column has been the best gift ever. Adweek could have handed me a sack of diamonds every month and it wouldn’t have matched the value to me on a far deeper level.

But what about you? What about your gifts? What secret longings of yours have yet to be unlocked? Do you harbor some skill you’ve yet to cultivate? Or better yet, does your job afford you the rare opportunity to do just exactly what you are better at doing than anyone else in the whole damn world?

It’s possible, you know. Problem is, people take a dim view of gifts these days. So much so that a big trend of late is the art of returning them. Gross. I’m talking about the holidays. “The most happiest time” has perversely become the time when getting rid of gifts is so popular that no less an august institution than Harvard is studying the practice.

Ours is a creative business, you know, and we’re surrounded by incredibly talented people. Occasionally you spot someone with exceptional gifts and you just pray they’ll make good use of them. Take Amy Moorman, for example. She’s the kind of girl it would be easy to hate. She’s one of those gorgeous, willowy stunners with beautiful eyes, a wide, open smile and a generous heart. What’s more, she’s accomplished more than most people twice her age.

When she was just 23 and working at Chiat/Day, she got roped into helping out with art buying at the agency. Few shops had departments to handle that kind of thing in those days, so she did it while the muckety-mucks searched high and low for a new boss to oversee her.

When a candidate was identified, it occurred to Amy that she had more experience than this supposed expert did. So what did she do? Prepared to quit. Fortunately, a friend suggested she write up a proposal to run the group herself. While Amy was mulling the opportunity, that same friend encouraged the creative department to let their feelings about Amy be known. Soon there were “We love Amy” signs everywhere, and Amy’s office was littered (literally) with roses from everyone in the department. (Roses? From Chiat/Day creatives? You’ve got to be kidding.)

Anyway, Miss Amy had recognized her gifts and marched into the president’s office to request a meeting. The result? She built the first West Coast art-buying department and trained many of the leading talents now working in that field all over California and beyond. Her crowning achievement? She worked on every single visual image in Apple’s entire “Think different” print campaign. Not bad, eh?

But she had another gift she wanted to explore. So, when she was at the top of her game, she quit and moved to New York to get her MFA at The Actors Studio. Now she freelances for numerous agencies (her commerce) while striving to get her break as an actress (her art).

What can we learn from Amy? That it is possible to pursue several dreams simultaneously.

I hope I’ve made use of the gift I was given. I’m proud to think that this column has shone a small light on the people in our industry who have a gift and know how to use it.

Cut to singer in dim spotlight, as before. Music swells. Lights up.

M.A.T.: “You can like the life you’re living. You can live the life you like. You can stay within this business. Or simply take a hike. And that’s good, isn’t it? Grand, isn’t it? Great, isn’t it? Swell, isn’t it? Fun, isn’t it? But nothing stays …”

Cut to the new Adweek, which launches Feb. 3.

M.A.T.: “In 50 years or so, it’s gonna change, ya know. But all is heaven … nowadays.”

Neilan Tyree has been a contributing editor and columnist for Adweek since April 2000. He was recently named executive director of business development at Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners in New York and therefore concludes his thrilling run as Man About Town with this installment. Mr. Tyree can be reached at neilan.tyree Or at the Ziegfeld Theater in Manhattan, enjoying repeat screenings of Chicago. By the way, he expresses apologies to Kander and Ebb.