You know how you sometimes look up into the sky and you see a cloud and think to yourself That looks like a dog. You point it out to whoever you’re with and they look up at the same cloud and say, “How do you get a dog out of that? Looks like a ‘57 Chevy to me.”
It’s all a matter of perception. It’s not about what’s in the sky, it’s about what‘s in your head.
We’ll get back to that in a minute.
But first, there’s an old adage in the ad agency business that says, “It would be a great business if it weren’t for the clients.”
Let me give you an example. Early in my advertising career I worked in the Los Angeles office of one of the world’s largest international ad agencies. One of the accounts I worked on was Hughes AirWest. (Ten points if you even remember that great little airline.)
We created a new ad campaign to promote its flights to Mexico. It was a beautiful, romantic campaign. We were excited. The client was excited. We sent a photographer and an art director down to Mexico for several weeks to shoot tons of beautiful, romantic images. One series of photos showed an attractive young couple embracing under a feathery tropical waterfall. It looked very similar to the shot of Jamie and me and at the top of this blog item. (Well, sorta. Jamie’s doing her part of the job, but you’ll just have to imagine that I’m young, dark and handsome and that we’re under a waterfall.)
We used one of those waterfall photos in the campaign’s first ad. The account executive took the completed ad to the client for approval. He unveiled it with great fanfare and sat back expecting to be overwhelmed with kudos. Instead the client took one look at it and said, “I can’t see that guy’s hand, but I know exactly what it’s doing under the water. We’re never going to run that ad.”
It was kind of like looking up at that cloud I mentioned in the first paragraph. Where we saw something of beauty, he saw something dirty.
We were all dumbfounded, but he was adamant. So the ad never ran.
I swear to you that the model was doing nothing untoward with his hand.
And neither am I. My hand is holding the camera that took the selfie.
Even if Jamie’s face says otherwise.