April 13, 2010
 

"L.o.v.e. Your Tchotchkes, H.a.t.e. Your Website!"

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By Preama Donner, Chief Meeting Officer, PlanetAgencyNY.com,

Commensurate with the Fall TV premieres, the annual planning season for your client's 2010 digital media campaign will kick off next week with the scheduling of "Media Days".

Being in meetings all day long and listening to Alec Baldwin-like sales people from every web property this side of Redmond can be quite a thrill. However, if you've already sat through more than 3 before 10AM, you find that your attention span has decreased by a measurable amount.

It's tough realize that there are only 6 truly original ideas in the world and thousands and thousands of 7s; all of which are in the lobby trying to make small talk with the temp receptionist.

Yes, it's great to be working in another area of the office other than your cubicle which you share with 14 other people. The conference room feels like Big Sky country; that is until you see that you got the agency's smallest, broken air conditioned, stifling conference room, where you're going to be parked all day. You think "Note to self. Be nicer to the temp next time since they manages conference room scheduling." You look at the agenda and see that the temp abbreviated "conference room" with "Con Room." You wonder how many of the reps you'll meet today say Glengarry is their favorite movie.

Since you have never done Media Days before, you will enjoy hearing whiz-bang-cool ideas that you know you'll never tell the client about, even though you listed it in the RFP. The real reason you asked for them is that they will really come in handy on your resume.

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You are in Media Daze h-ll. You wonder to yourself, "What was I thinking?" when you sent out 20 RFP's to media properties to come back to you with proposals, even though you only have enough of a budget for 2. That assumes that the client doesn't cut the budget, again. But that doesn't really matter now. Don't just stand there, let's get to it. Strike a pose, there's nothing to it.

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8:00AM: Towniewonders.com

Be gracious but not too excited about the Tchotchkes.

We all know that fu-fu gifts are nice, especially when they come in tiny Tiffany-size bags, and stuffed with fluffy, colored tissue paper. Sometimes you'll receive delicious, gourmet-baked cookies. Be careful. It's a trap. Do not look enamored or appreciative of them no matter HOW hungry or hung over you are.

Put the bag on the floor and under the table so they don't add a sense of fun and informality which the rep spent $75 for out of his own pocket. The package looks so dressy in order to create a sense of fun. Don't get sucked into their malicious ploy. Act as if the gift was more of an irritant than anything else. Look at your watch, yawn and say, "Okay, I don't have much time, whadayagot?"

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9:00: Vanitykidsschoolstyle.com

Depending on the politics involved, there are times you have to appear very interested in what the sales person has to say. You know already that you're planning on recommending that the client take 55% of the media spend on ESPN, even though the brand you're working on is a teen lipstick brand.

In these rare cases where politics are involved (versus the media buys that are politics-free and that favoritism has nothing to do with the media selection) make sure you lean in.

It's all an act. Your client and you are going to do what they did last year. Make the buy value-add heavy, which means that you're going to the Superbowl again and that this time you're going to be able to bring your spouse, your kids, your neighbor's kids and your neighbor's kids friends. Make sure that the rep sees you are brainstorming right before their eyes to find a way to make their media property get on the schedule. Once the pitch is done, tell them "Wow that was fantastic. I think we really have something here. Most importantly make sure you and the VP, Sales and VP Marketing on the same page with your ESPN recommendation before the Media Days are actually scheduled. Also confirm with Disney that the client will get at least one ticket to the game, even if it's in the nose bleeds. They won't see you after the pre-game party anyway, since your seats on down in the 3rd row on the 50 yard line.

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10:00AM: WiredStarDrumLiving.net

Conference Room = Bored Room.

Nothing should stop you from obtaining the lowest CPM with the highest value add package, especially for a test buy. It's a jungle out there. Remember that there's always another media lackey like you ready and willing to jump into your seat and play the heavy just as well - if not better- than you. Therefore, use everything at your disposal to accomplish your goal. This includes keeping a few media kits on the conference room table which are competitive to media company about to present to you.

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[By now, it occurs to you that some of the presentations were not as thought-out as you expected. One or two actually have grammatical mistakes in them due to the imperfect nature of "Find and Replace" on Microsoft Word. They replaced your client's competitors name and did not bother to proof read it before they left the office. Another clue is when the proposal lists an event that your client can sponsor which happened 6 months ago. However you really know how turn-style-esque the Media Days tactic as seen better days when rep didn't even look at the RFP or bother to look at the bran category. You're working on J&J Intensive Care Hand Lotion and the rep's media kit is for Valvoline Engine Oil, in the automotive after-market. You give them a quizzical look and ask them why. Their response is obviously one of embarrassment. It only gets worse when they try to laugh it off as a simple misunderstanding, since both brands are lubricants.]

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11:00AM: The Sportstimefood Ad Network

Take all the chairs out of the lobby, even the ones bolted to the floor so that the sales people waiting outside the conference room must stand for 90 minutes or more.

While it sounds sadistic, consider the health benefits and exercise that the dozen+ sales people waiting for you will receive standing outside the conference room. Make sure that they hear boisterous laughter coming from inside the conference room while they wait. They won't know that it's really a laugh track you've set up to be pumped into the lobby from America's Funniest Home Videos. Once the next sales rep comes in, look slightly disgusted that you have to hear another pitch. Give them the feeling that you're already made up your mind and that the proposal they worked on over the holiday will be as appetizing as warm beer and cold pizza.

Yawn at least 3 times during the meeting in equal segments, 10 minutes apart since rep expects that they are going to get at least 30 minutes. On minute 31, begin stretching and look at your watch, especially if the rep looks like they are really hitting their stride. On minute 33, cut them off in mid-sentence and say, "Is there anything else? I'm out of time."

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12Noon: CollectiveTrembleNews.biz

Offer them water - Now you own them.

Keep referring to the fact that you gave them a half-filled luke-warm cup filled with tap water in a paper Dixie cup from the faucet to show your hospitality. Of course you are sucking down a 48 ounce bottle of cold, perspiring Evian. Take a long swig for at least 15 seconds even if you're not thirsty and make that "ahhh' sound. Look annoyed when they have no place to throw their cup. You've taken the waste-paper basket out of the room before the meetings began for just this reason.

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LUNCH BREAK BACK AT YOUR DESK: 7 minutes

[Sitting patiently through pitch, after pitch, after pitch and trying to look interested and engaged in hearing every sales idea, is more work than staying awake during the Shakespeare in the Park event you went to in order to impress that certain somebody that you have at least some sort of culture, besides the one making your toes itch in your already damp and sweaty shoes, pumps, sneakers or loafers.

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Half way through the day, you come to the fact that, it's a challenge to appear like you're even remotely interested in these meetings.It's actually hard work to avoid looking distracted especially when you consider how much work is piling up in your email box. You starting wondering if maybe you chose the wrong career, since the pressure to be excited and interested in each meeting is exactly opposite the dread Tom Hanks had in the film, Castaway. You find yourself wishing you were him. You'd like to be anywhere but where you are. Maybe now is the time to begin writing the Great American novel; or a screenplay, or at a minimum, a treatment.

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Maybe it's not a screen play. Maybe it's the main role in a movie. Today actually might not be so bad. If you can get through each of the 10+ meetings already scheduled on your calendar, you'll prove to yourself that you have what it takes to be an actor. Maybe one with enough talent to receive an academy award.]

LUNCH BREAK OVER BACK IN THE CON ROOM

You redouble your efforts to withstand the David Mamet-like siren song that each reptile is singing.

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1PM: Plasticspoonscreen.biz, the behavioral targeting tool

Keep looking at your watch. Don't forget to yawn at frequent intervals. Ask really basic questions like, "what is a cookie again?" Ask them how to spell analytics.

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2PM: Teendeconstructionism.com

Answer your cell phone without saying excuse me, just as they are about to show their big idea.

Then spend at least 5 minutes on the phone with your friend to discuss where you want to have drinks that evening, talk about their golf handicap or laugh about the person(s) either you or they just fired. Make sure you speak loud enough for them to hear you, clearly.

[About this time is when your patience is getting very close to E on the proverbial, digital and automotive dashboard. By your sixth meeting your cynicism has raised its ugly head. That's bad, not for you of course but for the other 14 reps still waiting out in the lobby.]

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3PM: GolfjingleAmerican.com

Bring in a junior person to hear the sales pitch, excuse yourself and say, "Start without me."

Make sure the junior person does NOT work on the account that the website is there to pitch. Come back in about 25 minutes later and ask "What did I miss?"

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4:00PM: ScienceCookingDigest.com

If the website is hoping to get renewed for 2010, make cynical remarks about the intelligence your predecessor had for adding the website to the plan in the first place.

Also, insinuate that the client had questionable judgment for green lighting it. Note to self. Make sure that your client was not in the room. If you know that the rep had lunch with the Brand Manager in April, use your meanest, ticked-off look and ask, "What? Why didn't you show this to me first?" Ignore the fact that you were assigned the account in early July and haven't returned the 14 phone calls that the rep has made since you took over the business.

For the rest of the meeting, look down at the pad in front of you as the rep is talking. If they brought their V.P. Sales, make sure you raise your eyebrows once the rep was done and use your body gestures to make it unmistakably clear to the rep's boss that in your opinion they should get rid of rep. Keep doing it until the rep begins twitching in front of her boss, which is noticeable to everyone in the room. If their hands are not sweaty when you shake their hand goodbye, make a note to yourself that you've got to work on this tactic for the rest of the day.

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5:00PM: Surrealgenerationcar.com

Delay the president also attending the meeting from going into their sales pitch by focusing on small nonsensical chit chat for no less than 70% of the meeting.

Cover topics like their golf game, your golf game, their last vacation, your golf game, the town they live in, your golf game, your family life, your golf game, your country club golf course which they can't afford to join and your spouse's golf game. Then, ask penetrating questions and inquire about their philosophy on how the business has changed or hasn't changed. Also, mention that you played golf recently with their competitor. Once you've covered all these important topics, look at your watch and tell them you have a hard-stop in 10 minutes.

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6:00PM: Traveltraffic.net

Regardless of how great the website is, make them believe that the value add they gave you is more valuable than their site.

Drop semi-humorous phrases like "Love the cookies, hate your website" whether they brought cookies in the Tiffany bags or not. If they didn't then say, "Oh I confused you with your competitor." Then take your iPhone out and begin playing the FSS Hockey app. Since they won't begin their pitch without your attention, act as if you forgot they were there and then says, "Oh right, so whadayagot? Yawn and then perk up when you look at your watch, making it clear that you want to wrap it up quickly by saying, "Whew, I'm glad that's the last meeting. I need a drink." When they ask if they could join you, you say, " I'm having drinks with ____, do you know her/him." But make sure you know that the rep hates the person you are lying about having the drink with. In reality you're not really going out for a cocktail. You are finally going to be able to do the one thing you had on your mind day. Get home as quickly as possible before the dry cleaner closes."

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Day two: Repeat.


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