“Christ, if I were running the account management of this fucking agency I’d get Dick Fields out of here,” Alan’s head art director, Clay Ogden, said, whipsawing a metal ruler on his drawing board.
Alan continued doodling in the border of an agency memo. He was supposed to be reading a set of contact reports—lists of meetings and phone calls with agency clients—for Trans US Airlines, his latest potential client.
“He is the consummate ass,” Buck Jones muttered standing beside Clay. He chewed the end of a pencil as he waited to tell Clay his next idea for the layout.
“Well, I am not sure I would put it that way,” Alan responded. “But the man seems to know only one way—one style—and now he’s on all new business. I don’t understand it either.”
Alan had hired Buck as a copywriter for the Trans US Airlines account earlier in the summer. Hiring Buck was the centerpiece of his strategy to try and get Trans US international routes for Dunaway. Alan liked working on new messages for an existing brand and landing new accounts had always excited him.
Then, upon arriving back from California, his excitement had been dashed. The agency President had made Fields de facto ‘Prime Minister’ by appointing him to oversee new business operations. Fields was a long-time research man whose one and only account management credit was a big cereal company that had benefitted from his research.
All Alan could do was try and get the airline’s business and not piss off Fields. Trans US had changed agencies twice in an effort to jazz up marketing its domestic service. They had turned heads hiring Pando McCabe to sell their coast-to-coast routes. In all Alan knew they worked with three good agencies, so the competition for this new brand assignment was tough.
“Charlie Rice says he’s like a Sherman tank. No finesse. No wit. No class.” Buck commented.
“He’s certainly wrong for this,” Alan said looking increasingly frustrated as he tried to decipher the notes on the contact reports.
“I guess there is nothing to do about it until he makes enough mistakes. The guy has been here for twenty years.” Clay had put down his pencil and looked at Alan from behind his glasses and that awful fringe of brown hair.
“Yeah, but you know I have to make the Trans US new business presentation with Fields in a few days. I can’t let him screw this up. Yesterday it was pretty clear he has no sense of how to position the agency to appeal to the company representatives, two of whom are pilots-turned-businessmen, by the way.”
Was the air conditioning off? Alan felt himself perspire as he imagined sitting there with Fields at the end of the long conference room table as the company reps silently closed their briefcases to go. Fields would embarrass him, his team, and the agency.
“What are you going to do?” Buck asked. He stood now in front of Alan’s picture window that was spattered in raindrops.
“Show them the reel. Show them some print. A few case histories.” Alan tried not to sound resigned.
“God, that sounds dreary,” Clay said looking back at his drawing board.
“That’s what Fields wants to do.”
“Nobody gives a shit for case histories,” Buck exclaimed. “Let me do the presentation, Alan. Shucks, let me do the talkin’ and I’ll show them there’s money in those pretty story-boards Clay has made for us!” Buck was walking back and forth as he spoke. He rolled up his sleeves. His leather boots squeaked.
“You know, that’s not a bad idea,” Alan said. He leaned back and looked at Clay with a smile. “Put a good-looking cowboy in a meeting with a couple of former fighter pilots.”
“Hey, I like bullshitting with guys who like to go fast!” Buck was smiling now, all teeth.
“All we’d needs’a campfire,” Clay added, imitating the youngest in the room.
“Seriously men, I think you have something here.”
Alan had a plan.
© Lisa Anderson 2017