Over the last 35 years I’ve worked on lots of different accounts with hundreds of clients. George and Bruno were both real clients. Here’s why I miss George and not Bruno.
Why I Miss George
While George didn’t believe that advertising could help the Canadian division of the international brand he managed, he kept an objective, open mind and listened to reason. Every call, letter, fax or e-mail from George began with ‘Dear Frank, could you please . . . ’ and ended with ‘Thank you very much.’
He showed me, our agency, his team-mates, the franchise and his customers how common courtesy, common sense and the common touch can be used to build a Brand-Loyal Business one customer at a time; he addressed our basic need for acceptance, dignity and respect… it worked.
The collateral benefit of George’s approach included the following, and more:
• He brought out the best in me as an individual,
• He encouraged me to become a great, not just good, agency director,
• He offered our agency the benefit of the doubt when things went wrong and heaped on the praise when things went right,
• At George’s meetings you parked your ego at the door because the meetings probed and challenged emotions and intellect to ensure all stakeholders agreed with, could support and would defend the decisions made there,
• As a team, we all worked long and hard for George and the brand we nurtured together.
In the end, our promotions worked so well that we often ended the campaigns earlier than planned.
Why I Don't Miss Bruno
Bruno had a sign on his desk: “If anything goes wrong – someone will die.” Professionally he didn’t like partnerships. He had one with his wife: that’s it. He liked people that did as they were told. Bruno liked being in charge and in control. It was VERY important that all stakeholders thought Bruno was brilliant.
While Bruno was a regular guest at our agency, and was always available for a cross-country TV shoot, lunch, dinner and golf, to make the most of any event the spotlight had to be on Bruno from start to finish.
Bruno did whatever it took to make his numbers and did not care who got thrown under the bus when additional traction or a lighter load were called for. He never expressed appreciation because, in his mind, we didn’t exist – or if we did, only by his grace.
While little dictators like Bruno may have a role in our society, it’s definitely not in any role that involves marketing, advertising or customer service.
Great ideas are most often discovered where a key operational insight and an emotional contradiction collide like a pair of freight trains. Getting to that intersection takes intelligence, leadership, teamwork, insight and trust.
In the end Bruno lost most of the business advertising brought in because his operations rarely delivered on the advertised claims.