I attended the 4A’s seminar “Reinventing Account Management” last week at the ground floor of Young & Rubicam’s Madison Avenue headquarters. The location was indicative of the knowledge-seeking attendees around me. We had made it this far. Time to ascend.
I was there to excel (aka listen a lot), gather information (aka take seven pages of typed notes) and bring back crucial learnings to my team (aka read my seven pages of typed notes and find the nuggets). But what if some things couldn’t be “learned” but rather experienced in the moment you find yourself in? The stories shared in this seminar had my jaw dropping in awe. I think I fogged up my Macbook.
Take the blue pill.
A pharmaceutical company was having trouble with their patients. The antibiotic they created was working quickly and before finishing the entire pack, patients were stopping the dosage as soon as they felt better. They approached an agency with this task: Convince patients to take all of the pills via an advertising campaign. The agency thought about this and proposed another option. Why not make four of the 10 pills blue and tell patients to take two blue pills at the beginning and two blue pills at the end? Problem solved. The only question for the agency is how to do their timesheet.
Keeping up with the Joneses.
A water company wanted consumers to reduce their water usage. They requested that their agency develop a campaign to stop the hemorrhaging. The agency asked for a copy of the water bill. They studied it. They did research on water usage and consumer habits. They asked if the bill could be changed. It could. The proposal was simple. Revise the bill to show your neighbor’s water usage. No one wants to be the one using all the water. The bill was changed and the problem went away. The agency’s next problem? Figuring out how to bill that.
It’s all for the cause.
A charity had a goal of raising $100,000 and approached an agency for a non-profit campaign. Sure, an agency can develop beautiful, eye-catching creative to hook wallets from pockets. But this agency had another idea. The brand new, first iPhone was debuting in New York and the line was 20-hours long, at least. One agency man stood in that line. He waited and waited until finally, a brand new iPhone was his. He ran home, put it on eBay and got $100,000 for it. The next day, he handed the Client a check for $100,000. Mission accomplished.
Perhaps I have experienced these opportunities but I didn’t grasp them. I stayed the course and abided by the advertising regiment. Going forward, I will find the magic in these moments, take a step back and think about what is truly the best solution. Perhaps it isn’t advertising at all. Perhaps it is beyond something I can do. Whatever it may be, we will all be better for it.