Classic ad-agency memos: D-grade toilet paper and early-morning pot smoking

TBWA\Chiat\Day’s battle against the elusive and disgusting Toilet Boy (see below) has brought back memories of other classic ad-agency memos. One of them, concidentally, also involved toilet paper. It was sent by Brendan Ryan to all staff at Foote Cone & Belding in New York after the agency’s 2003 move to West 33rd Street. In an impressive 1,600 words, Ryan mused on everything from the gritty charm of the new neighborhood (“kind of like NYPD Blue ‘live’”) to the bathroom amenities (“little shelves will be installed in all the stalls, thereby significantly reducing the number of cell phones tumbling into toilet bowls”). He was less impressed by the toilet paper itself. “The decision to buy toilet paper costing about $2 per 1,000 rolls has been revoked,” he declared. He also outlined the strategy for eradicating rodents. We’re “knocking off on average eight mice per day,” he wrote, “and now moving from the sticky traps to the cream cheese and whack ’em on the head type traps.” Another classic agency memo came from Jeff Goodby, in which he ripped into unknown Goodby, Silverstein & Partners employees after smelling pot smoke in the office at 10 a.m. one morning. With indications “strongly suggesting that it was someone from, say, the creative department,” Goodby reminded staff that indulging while clients and prospects are in the office “threaten[s] people’s jobs and well-being. I am concerned for the person or people who feel it necessary to light up at such an hour. This is not good for you—in either a personal or a professional sense.” Goodby signed off with a flourish: “Please note that we emphatically pay you for what you do straight here—no matter what you may deliriously believe. … The price of freedom, lack of censorship and a championing of strange behavior is a little bit of fucking judgment. Please pay that price for me. For us all. Thank you.”

—Posted by Tim Nudd