22

And now for something completely different

A window into the brain trust that brings us those Telus ads


 
And now for something completetly different

iStock; Getty Images; Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

Scene: an advertising agency. The senior partner stands.

—I’m eager to see what you’ve come up with for one of our most important clients, Telus. This account deserves all our effort and imagination. Dazzle me.

The head of creative takes the floor.

We’ve put in long nights. Pushed the envelope of what’s possible. Spent four days at a high-end yoga resort to centre our collective chi. I am about to reveal the mind-blowing fruit of our hard mental labour.

He pauses for a moment, milking the anticipation.

Walruses.

The senior partner cocks an eyebrow.

—What?

Walruses. We’ll make the exact same ad we always make—slap together some footage of animals, set it to retro music—but this time . . . walruses.

He accepts a congratulatory handshake from an associate and begins to gather up his papers.

—Uh, I think we did walruses.

Wasn’t that a rhino? I’ll ask my intern. She’s the one who had to hold back its ears to make it “smile.”

The senior partner turns to an assistant.

—Jenkins, have we done walruses?

Jenkins opens a massive leather journal and begins reading aloud.

Birds, a duck, some fish, a hedgehog . . .

Two hours pass.

. . . a hippopotamus, lizards, a macaw . . .

Whole civilizations collapse.

. . . a meerkat, monkeys, pot-bellied pigs, pygmy goats and a tree frog. No walruses.

The successor to the senior partner – who passed away somewhere in the m’s – strokes his beard.

—I don’t know. Walruses just don’t feel very “Telusy.”

No sweat. We’ve got better ideas. Groundbreaking stuff.

Shuffles notes.

Okay, this next concept is pretty radical. I need everyone to close their eyes. Let me paint you a mind picture.

Everyone closes their eyes.

Imagine . . . a cow.

—That’s it?

You don’t like? Then how about we completely tweak that concept and make it [spreads hands with a magician’s flourish] cowssss.

—Listen, I get it, okay? We’ve had success with cute animals doing cute things. The spots stood out in the marketplace and fit with Telus’s marketing strategy—I assume. What I’m saying today is: we’ve had a good run but it’s time to grow. To do better! To knock another one out of the park! Do you understand what I’m getting at?

Absolutely.

—Great. So hit me with something new. Mesmerize me.

You got it!

He gazes off wistfully, in the manner of the handsome fellow from Mad Men.

Antelope.

—No.

Opossum.

—No.

How about a three-legged burro?

—No.

WHY ARE YOU STIFLING MY CREATIVITY AS AN ARTIST?

The head of creative, now sweating profusely, tries to regroup.

Talking cartoon rooster.

—Nope.

How about we start crossbreeding the animals we’ve already used? We’ll begin with the hedgopotamus!

—No.

Ewoks. Ewoks are real, right?

The senior partner stands.

—It’s been more than 10 years, people. How long can we keep billing this client for the exact same execution performed with a different animal and a different song? How many of our employees need to go on long-term disability with flamingo wounds before we get the message that it’s time to move on? We need something revolutionary. We need an ad for Telus wireless that showcases our peerless creativity and integrity as advertising professionals. And we are not leaving this room until we come up with it.

There is a long pause.

Dolphins?

—Bingo!


 
Filed under:

And now for something completely different

  1. Gong!

    Meanwhile, the rest of Canada is discussing the implications of UBB, the internet, and how the telecom/media incumbents are hosing Canadians. As usual, Maclean's pays no attention. The mothership frowns upon such discussion, and most certainly would not like such a pesky thing such as investigative journalism to look at the actual issues. Alas…

  2. Gong!

    Meanwhile, the rest of Canada is discussing the implications of UBB, the internet, and how the telecom/media incumbents are hosing Canadians. As usual, Maclean's pays no attention. The mothership frowns upon such discussion, and most certainly would not like such a pesky thing such as investigative journalism to look at the actual issues. Alas…

    • You do understand Feschuk's job here at Maclean's, right?

      • Obviously I do. My comment isn't so much about Feschuk (who has done way way funnier things – PS) as it is a critique of the publication that he works for. Up until this post (which is telecom based), the only other thing covering UBB was a post snagged from G&M. That's pretty lame, considering this is supposed to be "Canada's National Magazine". I could understand the silence when the issue of UBB was far from the spotlight, but to have nothing even when it has hit the political mainstream? Such is the danger of this publication being owned by a media/ISP interest that very much has a stake in limiting exposure to such things.

    • SamDavies, are you some kind of lobbyist?

      • Are you hiring? I wish. No – I'm simply a tech geek – and this is an issue that I have strong feelings for. It's one of the deal breakers that has made me not like the Harper years. When first elected, and when Bernier was Industry Minister, he instructed the CRTC to interfere as little as possible, and let the Market rule. With regards to telecom matters, this is absolutely retarded, because Free Market principles do not apply in a sector that is very much regulated, and where foreign competition is very much restricted. It is believed that Bernier intended to work towards opening the doors for more competition, but his successors have been very slow in doing anything. The end result is that Canada is considered a joke with regards to our Internet services/costs. This is turn has a ripple effect, and limits our ability to compete with other countries who have much more favourable conditions in the IT world.

        If you're interested in reading more, I highly suggest reading the posts of Peter Nowak, former tech writer for the CBC who has since gone freelance. He's one of the few journalists out there that actually understands (both from a technical and cultural perspective) the issues at stake. http://wordsbynowak.com/2011/02/02/canadas-teleco

        • Thanks for this. I'm glad I gave you the chance to expand your thoughts. While I don't really know much about it, I do know that I feel abused. So off to read the link.

          • That wasn't enough. I need to get a rant of my own out. What really, totally makes me crazy is that Rogers first came to me and said they would like to upgrade my equipment at no cost to me. Not being a dummy, I said no thanks. They came back a few months later to say, they really needed to upgrade my equipment because the old equipment I had would no longer work. Reluntantly, I had my equipment replaced. Then they said it would be better for me if I paid per usage, after all I'm not one of the greedy inconsiderate customers who slows things down for everyone else. I said, maybe not today but I'm sure you'll figure out a way to make me want to be. And then they did. Nevermind Netflix, how about Rogers' own OnDemand internet movies, TV shows and other things? And where do they TELL you it will affect your usage? Nowhere, that's where.

        • Fair enough, SamDavies. I agree that the caps and the shift to usage-based billing are a problem, given that we have have a telecom oligopoly with very few options.

  3. You do understand Feschuk's job here at Maclean's, right?

  4. Scott Feschuk is a humor columnist and slightly-better-than-a-coin-toss NFL game-winner predictor for Maclean's magazine and the macleans.ca website, both owned by Rogers Publishing, a division of a large corporate behemoth that also offers telephone, internet and cellphone communications services through the Rogers brand and other labels, in competition with Telus.

    The current Rogers cellphone ad campaign involves two geekish young men, one of whom suffers a series of life calamities for the simple crime of not being a current Rogers wireless customer. Rogers presumably believes this is superior to a bunch of members of the animal kingdom posing in front of a white background. The Fido brand of Rogers cellphone products relies on the canine members of the animal kingdom to market its product.

    The absence of a disclaimer such as this does not reflect favourably upon Rogers.

  5. Scott Feschuk is a humor columnist and slightly-better-than-a-coin-toss NFL game-winner predictor for Maclean's magazine and the macleans.ca website, both owned by Rogers Publishing, a division of a large corporate behemoth that also offers telephone, internet and cellphone communications services through the Rogers brand and other labels, in competition with Telus.

    The current Rogers cellphone ad campaign involves two geekish young men, one of whom suffers a series of life calamities for the simple crime of not being a current Rogers wireless customer. Rogers presumably believes this is superior to a bunch of members of the animal kingdom posing in front of a white background. The Fido brand of Rogers cellphone products relies on the canine members of the animal kingdom to market its product.

    The absence of a disclaimer such as this does not reflect favourably upon Rogers.

  6. SamDavies, are you some kind of lobbyist?

  7. Obviously I do. My comment isn't so much about Feschuk (who has done way way funnier things – PS) as it is a critique of the publication that he works for. Up until this post (which is telecom based), the only other thing covering UBB was a post snagged from G&M. That's pretty lame, considering this is supposed to be "Canada's National Magazine". I could understand the silence when the issue of UBB was far from the spotlight, but to have nothing even when it has hit the political mainstream? Such is the danger of this publication being owned by a media/ISP interest that very much has a stake in limiting exposure to such things.

  8. Are you hiring? I wish. No – I'm simply a tech geek – and this is an issue that I have strong feelings for. It's one of the deal breakers that has made me not like the Harper years. When first elected, and when Bernier was Industry Minister, he instructed the CRTC to interfere as little as possible, and let the Market rule. With regards to telecom matters, this is absolutely retarded, because Free Market principles do not apply in a sector that is very much regulated, and where foreign competition is very much restricted. It is believed that Bernier intended to work towards opening the doors for more competition, but his successors have been very slow in doing anything. The end result is that Canada is considered a joke with regards to our Internet services/costs. This is turn has a ripple effect, and limits our ability to compete with other countries who have much more favourable conditions in the IT world.

    If you're interested in reading more, I highly suggest reading the posts of Peter Nowak, former tech writer for the CBC who has since gone freelance. He's one of the few journalists out there that actually understands (both from a technical and cultural perspective) the issues at stake. http://wordsbynowak.com/2011/02/02/canadas-teleco

  9. Thanks for this. I'm glad I gave you the chance to expand your thoughts. While I don't really know much about it, I do know that I feel abused. So off to read the link.

  10. That wasn't enough. I need to get a rant of my own out. What really, totally makes me crazy is that Rogers first came to me and said they would like to upgrade my equipment at no cost to me. Not being a dummy, I said no thanks. They came back a few months later to say, they really needed to upgrade my equipment because the old equipment I had would no longer work. Reluntantly, I had my equipment replaced. Then they said it would be better for me if I paid per usage, after all I'm not one of the greedy inconsiderate customers who slows things down for everyone else. I said, maybe not today but I'm sure you'll figure out a way to make me want to be. And then they did. Nevermind Netflix, how about Rogers' own OnDemand internet movies, TV shows and other things? And where do they TELL you it will affect your usage? Nowhere, that's where.

  11. Fair enough, SamDavies. I agree that the caps and the shift to usage-based billing are a problem, given that we have have a telecom oligopoly with very few options.

  12. I like walruses.

  13. I like walruses.

    • one can only hope that Rogers does not miss the opportunity to incorporate a certain G. Campbell into his advertising campaign. Gordie apparently found his 'true calling'. He is going to pray for the soul of dogs. Wouldn't it be nice if he would have done only half as much for the people of this province?!

  14. one can only hope that Rogers does not miss the opportunity to incorporate a certain G. Campbell into his advertising campaign. Gordie apparently found his 'true calling'. He is going to pray for the soul of dogs. Wouldn't it be nice if he would have done only half as much for the people of this province?!

Sign in to comment.