Mr. Bartender

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I was talking to a friend a few days ago who was an AE at a previous agency where I worked. He said he had been looking into doing something other than advertising. He wasn’t excited about it anymore. I can see why. When we worked together, we were like trench soldiers on the Western Front. Except all was not quiet. We bled to gain a very small piece of real estate. So I wasn’t too shocked when he talked about his future being in a different industry.

An interesting thing about this guy is that he used to be a bartender. I constantly saw him use the psychologist skills that are legend with bartenders as he kept our clients between the ditches. He was very good at making clients feel calm about what was going on without being a “smoozer.” I’ve always admired people that everyone seems to trust. When they're the account guy who’s watching my back, I worship them.

I read an interview in an industry pub today that reinforces why my AE friend is probably on his way back to bartending. In the article there was an interview of an advertising professional who had been asked to do research for an organization of American businesses and industries. His task was to discover why foreign trade with America is waning. The research found that the world doesn’t respect the U.S. as it once did. We are seen as arrogant as well as having some other social skills that aren’t conducive to successful business.

When the interviewer asked what the client thought about the finding, the advertising professional said they weren’t really accepting of it. Why? Pay attention; this is the part where Travis finds out Ol’ Yeller has rabies. The American industry’s denial was due to the fact that they don’t really respect advertising professionals enough to take what we say seriously. It doesn’t matter even if what we say is true. How sad is that? More importantly, are we going to believe what this advertising professional says? The truth hurts but we can change it. We must change it.

Last week, a visitor to the agency asked us what we wanted to be as an agency. One of my partners answered, “We want to be great and be good.” What he meant by that statement is we are resolved to be an agency with character and ethics. We believe we can be good, moral, and ethical and also be great thinkers for our clients. I can promise you that this attitude is in place here. I’ve seen clients who have no other reason to trust what we say other than that they trust our integrity. That is a powerful tool.
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