And now for something completely different - Macleans.ca

And now for something completely different

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

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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!

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