My friend Dick Clark, erstwhile art director and TV director who's seen it all, writes:
But we were also aware of the “ritual dance”.
One I remember was painfully illustrative of what became known as the “creative clusterf**k”. It was one of those urgent, work-through-lunch exercises making print “roughs” for the truck division of a major automotive account. I was “partnered” with a very bright copywriter named Charlie, a soft-spoken southerner with the self-mocking sense of humor that comes with confidence. I recollect being pleasantly surprised at how quickly we established a rhythm. We were cranking out “roughs” like a giant letter-sorter at the post office. A constant flow of full page magazine layouts began to paper the floor-to-ceiling cork board of my office.
We were really humpin’ when the phone rang. Charlie answered it. The caller was a junior account executive, a prototypical young New York ad man right out of a casting call for Mad Men. (They’ve gotten that part consistently right.) This kid had one of those voices which require the recipient of the call to hold the phone 6 to 8 inches from the ear. I heard the whole conversation.
Charlie: “Clark’s office . . . Charlie here.”
Junior: “ Charlie! This is Brad! How you guys doin’?”
Charlie: “Well . . . we’re gainin’ on it. Got some stuff.”
Junior: “Terrific! More fuel for the fire, huh? Got some world-beaters in there? Some break-throughs? Award winners?”
Charlie: “No. Mostly they’re pretty dull. Actually, a few are flat-out awful but one or two might be headed the right direction. We figure to hit ‘mediocre’ just about dead center.”
Junior: “ . . . (very long pause) . . . Okay-y-y. See you at three.” Click.
In fact, some of what we did that day became the theme of became a fairly durable campaign.
I don’t think the constant fight to raise creative standards we were continually waging has ever been the plot line for an episode of Mad Men.
Charlie and I said “Hi” a lot and had lunch a couple of times, but he moved on shortlyafter our “clusterf**k”. To Doyle, Dane, Bernbach as I recall.