He had the hottest account in town, but he hadn't a clue. Tom Kolirew was an ex-con who had done seven years hard time for mail fraud and unlawful solicitation of shellfish. He was also an ex-priest.
But that was then. Now he was the proprietor of The Holy Donuttery, a new emporium boasting 46 different ways to enjoy fried dough, 14 of which came sans hole, and two of which were made with holy water. The creative departments of agencies around town were abuzz with the news of this new potentially lucrative account up for review. And before Tom Kolirew knew he even needed to advertise, he was swarmed by ponytailed and skinheaded hotshots in black, trudging through his shop in thick-soled Doc Martens or Kenneth Coles. Most of them were moonlighting creatives with funny-sounding business names like A Coupla Guys Doing Ads That Don't Suck or Ad Nazis or Tommy & Jimmy's Ad Haus. There were also earnest zealots from legitimate agencies with names that sounded like law firms. Tom recognized the tall, lanky young man walking toward him with portfolio case in tow. He was from a hot shop and had pestered him last week to make a speculative pitch for his business.
"Tom, " said Brian Chesapeake, owner of two One Show Merits, 13 regional Addys, nine Tellys, and seven BAITUs (Best Ad in the Universe), "we've got a campaign that's nitro-'tude. It's sure to be judge-proof during the awards season."
"What awards season?" asked Kolirew, sipping a decaf Mocha.
"Doesn't matter what awards show .... that's the beauty of it," Chesapeake said, chin jutting forward, "this stuff has the potential to be Gold Pencil, CA-even D&AD!"
"What are you talking about?" "Look," Chesapeake said, pulling a stack of slick, colorful comps from his black portfolio. "We got a campaign here with eight four-color magazine spreads and-
"Wait a second!" Kolirew said. "Where am I going to get that kind of money? What do you think I am, Dunkin Donu-"
"Hey, hey, hey, hold on, Tom," Chesapeake said, inching closer. Kolirew instantly wadded his fist into a ball and prepared to pop the slick adguy in the windpipe, an old prison habit that was proving hard to break.
Chesapeake continued: "These ads won't cost you a dime. Just give us, say, a dozen donuts for client meetings once in awhile. We'll take care of the rest. I'm not saying the ads will be in Time or People or anything, but we'll get them printed. You display some in here and we can enter them as posters, too!" Chesapeake's face scrunched into three folds of flesh supporting a toothy smile.
"Huh?" Kolirew asked. "Enter what?"
"The ads-the posters. We'll even put them in buses so we can enter them as transit, too."
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh, and we've got to do one against drugs, murder, AIDS, child molesting or something, then we'll cover the public service category, too. Stupid me," Chesapeake said, giving himself a gentle noogie on his noggin. "Don't want to miss that. And we'll mail some out, too, so we can enter direct mail. That's usually a barren category. We can slam dunk it."
"And all this will help me sell more donuts?"
"Tom, Tom," Chesapeake chuckled, "we're talking ads that'll be a lock in the shows. You realize what kind of exposure that'll get? CA, One Show-being in there with Goodby, Wieden, Fallon," Chesapeake said, glassy-eyed-"yeah, I'd say they'll sell a donut or two."
Although Kolirew wasn't sure what a CA or a Goodby was, he liked the idea of selling more donuts. Chesapeake began shuffling the artboards. "Oh," the fidgety creative said, "before I show you the print, let me mention we're also working on some TV and radio."
"TV? Radio? I can't afford that! Do you have any idea how small the profit margin is in donuts?!
"Tom," Chesapeake said smoothly, "you mind if I call you Tommy?"
Kolirew's fingers easily curled into a fist again and the veins tightened in his arms. "Yes, I mind," Kolirew said with a prisoner's cold glare.
"Um, okay," Chesapeake said clearing his throat nervously, "this isn't going to cost you anything but a couple dozen donuts here and there. My agency will take care of everything else. No problem."
"But how do you guys make money?"
"Oh, well, you see, we make money on other accounts. You're kind of a pro bono account for us."
"Pro bono? I'm a pity case for you guys?"
"No, no, no," said Chesapeake with a girlish giggle, "not at all. Your account is sort of like a fun dessert for us to work on after we've been beaten-up all day working on a paying client's account. You're like a creative pro bono account, see?"
Kolirew didn't see. He didn't understand any of this. He'd been in business for all of three weeks and already a half dozen people had come by asking for his "account." Most offered their ads free, as long as he agreed to allow them to run them as is, with no revisions. He wondered how any of these supposedly smart business people stayed in business. It would be as if he went door-to-door asking people to eat his donuts so he could take pictures of them eating donuts so he could enter the pictures in a photography contest. It all seemed pretty crazy to him, but then what the hell did he know about advertising. He knew donuts.
"Well," Kolirew said, "let me at least look at your ads."
Chesapeake immediately straightened his posture and began to assume a salesman's stance. "First off, let me explain our creative philosophy behind this campaign, because it really is so breakthrough."
"Yeah, yeah," Kolirew said, "cut the crap. Just fork over the ads."
Chesapeake sheepishly advanced the boards. Kolirew looked at them. One played up the fact that an ex-con had a place that would attract cops like moths to a halogen. Another ad made a visual penis joke out of a cinnamon twist. One showed Moses holding up two tablets to his people. The tablets were not commandments, they were donut menus. Another had a visual of a priest's collar and a gag about how a man left his white collar job to pursue a higher calling. There were a couple ads Kolirew didn't quite get, with pictures of dogs fighting over donuts and really fat people endorsing a new donut diet and a rabbi dressed like a biker. All in all, the ads were pretty similar to the spec ads he'd seen from others. "You misspelled Catholic on this one," Kolirew said, passing the boards back, "and I think 'penis' only has one n."
"No big deal, we'd have caught that,"
Chesapeake muttered. "So, what do you think? When can we start producing these?"
"I don't know," Kolirew said. "There's a couple more agencies coming in later this week and I promised I'd see their stuff."
"Well," Chesapeake said indignantly, "ask these other agencies if they're prepared to write, design and maintain your Web site."
Chesapeake scoffed. "Interactive's only one of the hottest categories in the shows today, Mr. Donut Man! We wouldn't be much of an agency if we didn't recommend a Web site, now would we?"
"No," Kolirew said. "I guess not."
"Well, when you're serious about advertising, call me," Chesapeake said, thrusting a business card to Kolirew, then pivoting and marching out of the store. A moment later, the door opened and three men began wheeling audio/visual equipment into the Holy Donuttery. Tom Kolirew's 11 o'clock presentation was early.