Never argue with an arrogant twit
Alas, professionals. Some of them seem to think that expertise in one area gives them expertise in all.
I once prepared a campaign for a chain of mental health facilities. Like most poorly managed companies, this one wouldn’t run an ad unless every psychologist in the organization approved it. Tip: If you want unremarkable advertising, committee approval is the way to go.
Most of the psychologists I met with were great. One, however, informed me that my writing was wholly unprofessional. You can imagine my chagrin. At the time I had been writing ads for 15 years. I’d somehow gotten it into my head that I knew how to write ... that I knew how to write ... well, that I knew how to write professional copy.
“For instance,” he went on, “here the ad offers a ‘free’ initial consultation. Very unprofessional. ’Without charge.’ There. That’s professional.”
I knew better than to point out that “free” outperforms in the real world. He probably wouldn’t have believed me and, either way, wouldn’t have cared.
So, instead, I told him that his peers were fine with the wording.
Drawing a heavy sigh, he said, “If you want to know if the instrument is in tune, you should ask the musician who has perfect pitch.”
Here I resisted the urge to say, “Listen, you arrogant twit ...”
His CEO backed him up. She said, “I want effective advertising that doesn’t call attention to itself.”
Except for the “effective” part, that was exactly what they ended up with. Then the CEO complained that the advertising didn’t increase their business. “See?” she said. “Advertising doesn’t work.”
In time, I made it my policy not to work with clients who think they know more about advertising than I do. They indeed may, but if they do, then they should write their own ads or retain someone smarter than either of us. If they only think they know more? Here I shall defer to the late David Ogilvy: “Any fool can write a bad advertisement, but it takes a genius to keep his hands off a good one.”