Such failure only serves as inspiration for the CEO. He will read a presentation over and over, call clients, media sales representatives and consultants for feedback on why he's lost a pitch so he can do better next time.
It's that perseverance that helped Mr. Klues' team clinch the biggest media planning account in history.
"How we attacked the GM pitch and prepared for it is how we prepare for all client business," Mr. Klues says, downplaying any drama.
But the week before the team made its July 20 pitch to General Motors Corp., Mr. Klues called a rehearsal with Bcom3 CEO Roger Haupt and a cadre of GM account team members. "We bombed," says Mr. Brennan. "We were trying to say too many things."
The fiasco only stoked Mr. Klues' boundless resolve. He pored over the presentation with Mr. Brennan with the aid of a couple of Miller Lites. The pair decided to refocus using the Rule of Threes -- three promises they could make to GM: make it more competitive, save a certain amount of money and create a company of world-class people, systems and research.
"It was all about focusing ourselves on strategy driving implementation rather than implementation driving strategy," says Mr. Klues.
Five days later, GM stunned the industry when it awarded its $2.9 billion consolidated media planning responsibilities to Starcom MediaVest over contenders Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media Worldwide and Carat Media.
The win justifies Mr. Klues' efforts over the last five years to invest in strategic media research and systems.
"In some ways we were born to do this," says Mr. Klues, calling the win "validation for rightness of our philosophy and strategic direction.
"As a planner I always believed this agency network was in the best position to deliver integrated solutions even though we're a media specialists' organization."
He nurtured that loyalty over the 23 years he's been with the Leo Burnett Co. organization. The 45-year-old started as an account exec trainee in 1977 after graduating from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in advertising. He then joined the media department, finding his passion in the industry.
"I've always been infatuated on how media worked and how it can influence people's buying habits," he says. "I'm fascinated by the concept of Andy Warhol's 15 minutes. How media works in that regard intrigues me."
Mr. Klues then worked his way through the ranks of the media department, becoming group director through the 1980s. He was named U.S. media director in 1994. In 1996, he became worldwide director before being named CEO of the newly formed Starcom group.
Mr. Brennan says Mr. Klues pays back staffers with complete loyalty. In fact, when Mr. Brennan accepted the Starcom MediaVest leadership post, he says Mr. Klues made him one promise. "He said, `No one will ever separate us,' " says Mr. Brennan, noting how many corporations break up teams when they create new companies. "He has elicited from me a bond of complete trust."