Volume 35, Number 9, September 2000



The Creative Bent

keeping your standards high

by Max Perilstein

A few months ago I began the process of creating an ad campaign for our new consolidation of companies. I was excited by the prospect of starting with that blank sheet of paper and developing a memorable tag line or image. I mean who could forget “Where’s the Beef?” or the “Whasuuuuuuuup?” guys from that wildly popular beer commercial.

So I hooked up with a big New York advertising agency to help me bring this process together. I had major visions of an ad that would have everyone buzzing. My mind raced as I dialed the phone. This was going to be spectacular. The ad agency connected me to my creation analyst, or C.A. I was brimming with ideas and ready to go. When he was all done with me, my mind—which is usually perking with thoughts, most of them sarcastic—was empty.

He asked me to e-mail him all of the ideas I had for a campaign. I told him I would but asked that he throw in his ideas. I thought maybe he was thinking of something that I wasn’t. After all, he was the powerful creation analyst, wasn’t he?

I listed a bunch of ideas, “Taking the Industry by Storm” or “20/20 Vision- See Clearly With Us” or “The Great Melting Pot, Companies Coming Together” and sent them off.

About three days later, my C.A. called me back and said he LOVED my ideas. However, they wouldn’t work. Shocked, I asked him why and his explanations blew me to bits. “Well on the ‘storm’ one it would be bad because you would be offending all of your customers in the south that just got that horrible weather. They have hurricanes down there and they may think you’re mocking them. It’s just not healthy to bring up tough memories for your buying prospects.”

Keeping in mind that most people in this industry actually WANT bad weather, I filed that away for future use.

He continued, “The ‘vision’ thing was super too… but now you’re doing two things. One, you may confuse your customers as they may think you’re in the eyeglasses business. Plus, again you would possibly be picking on that part of the population that has vision problems. I would feel awful if a guy who wears glasses gave a job away because you’re taunting him with your ad.”

Now I was truly speechless, but he wasn’t done. “And the ‘melting pot’ is great but you have to keep in mind some people still have difficult memories of when they came to this country. You would absolutely be offending the ethnic values of the customer base.”

While I could see a bit of a point on the melting pot item, I was so flabbergasted about the first two items I couldn’t see straight. Was this the way the great ads were

The next morning I called my C.A. and thanked him for his time. Somewhere in all of this he HAD given me an idea. I thought to myself that this guy wanted a mediocre, safe ad and quite frankly I don’t settle for mediocre. My standards are too high. Boom! That was it. Our companies have that philosophy, too. So then and there, working with a local agency on the artwork, our ad was born. While people in bars may not be saying “Raise your standards, dude!” I know that at least this is a process that in the roundabout way came from inside me.

In the end I didn’t need a big New York agency for the idea, and the only people I’m offending are the mediocre and the bizarre C.A.s of the world. The ad appears in this issue. Any feedback, negative or positive, would be appreciated. Feel free to contact me at Max.Perilstein@pdcglass.com


wpe2.jpg (2313 bytes)Max Perilstein is vice president/general manager of PDC Glass of Michigan. His column appears bimonthly.


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