I always told creative teams that I wanted them to include a T-shirt idea in every new ad campaign they presented to me. Why? ”Because any great ad campaign should be simple enough to be summed up on a T-shirt.”
As I mentioned in Part One of this sordid tale, I was still very ill after we got home from Fiji. I had dropped nineteen pounds almost overnight and for a month or more I was as weak as a little girl. I missed ten days of work and was still wobbly when I finally began going back into the office for a few hours each day.
In those days we had a great client named Shimano. It’s one of the biggest names in the biking and fishing industries. You’d expect a company in those businesses to be fun, and Shimano did not disappoint. It was one of my favorite clients.
One afternoon my first week back at work, I got a phone call from Toyo Shimano. ”What time are you heading home tonight?” he asked.
”Well, I’m still pretty sick so I’ll probably leave around three o’clock. Why?”
“Can you stop by the office on your way home? Dave and I heard you weren’t feeling well so we got you a present.”
Dave was Dave Pfeiffer, the guy who ran the fishing half of the company. He and Toyo were best friends and fanatical fishermen.
I really didn’t really want any delays on my way home, but Toyo and Dave were great guys, and since they’d gone to the trouble of buying me a gift, well, the least I could do was stop by their office to accept it.
“Just tell the receptionist to buzz us when you get here. We know you’re not feeling well so we’ll make it quick.”
I did, she did, and a few seconds later I heard my name being called from the top of the stairs. Toyo and Dave were both peering down at me with silly grins on their faces. They hurried down the stairs and handed me a beautifully-wrapped gift, one they were clearly eager for me to open right there and then.
I tore the wrapping off. Inside was the T-shirt shown above. It said, ”Spawn ‘til you die.”
”We heard about your ‘girlfriend’ and your ciguatera poisoning,” Dave laughed. ”When we saw this T-shirt we thought it was perfect for you.”
It really was perfect. I wore that T-shirt proudly for many years.
Like I said at the top of this story, it’s not a great ad campaign unless it can be communicated simply enough to work on a T-shirt. But who knew it wasn’t a great vacation unless it could be summed up on a T-shirt?