I got a call the other night from a guy I worked with literally three decades ago. He was my account guy on a financial services account back when suits still wore suits. In fact, when there were client meetings, even creatives wore suits. I kept one or two in my office just in case.
“George,” he started, “I’m not sure you’ll remember me.”
I get a fair amount of calls that start this way. I suppose it comes from being up there in years.
“It’s Scott. We worked together on the ____________ account at _______&_________.”
“Of course I remember you,” I temporized.
“Listen,” Scott said, “I know this is out of the blue. I just didn’t know who else to ask.”
“What’s up?” I said with more than a scintilla of annoyance in my voice. I had the feeling I was about to be asked for money.
“I just need my memory jogged. I always admired your ability to retain information. I thought you might be able to help me.”
“You know what elephants say…A George never forgets.”
“Still have that sense of humor, huh?”
“If you want to call it that, I suppose I do.”
“I’ll cut to the chase. I’m running a small agency in Connecticut now—I’m living up by Westport, and I’ve forgotten. Maybe you can help.”
“Sure. I’ll try.” I looked at my watch. This conversation was going nowhere. I wanted to get off the phone.
“Look, we have a new business presentation,” Scott continued. “I know it’s almost 2020. But what are agencies driven by these days? I don’t remember and I don’t know who else to ask. This is embarrassing.”
“Calm down and try to clarify. I’ve got to run and I’m not quite understanding what you need.”
“Well, like I said. I’ve got this big new business pitch and I’ve totally drawn a blank. This year, what are agencies supposed to be driven by?”
“Yeah. Couple years ago, we were results-driven. Then for a year or two we were data-driven. Then I think we switched to consumer-driven. Then insight-driven. Last year if I'm not mistaken, we were purpose-driven. I’m on the hook for this, and I’m completely drawing a blank. What are we driven by? Results? Data? Consumers? Insights? Purpose?”
I looked up to the heavens and thought for a moment. New business. And the start of a new year. This is an old friend. I wanted to help.
“Scott,” I said. “You can handle this, man. You’ve dealt with pressure your whole career.”
“George, I’m a desperate man. Data? Consumers? Results? Insights? Purpose? What is my agency driven by?”
“You’re a data-driven agency that gets results from insights by giving consumers a purpose-driven drive,” I said. “That, and you’re made from 100% recycled ocean plastic.”
“Thanks, dude,” Scott said. And he hung up the phone.