It was 7 am, Monday morning, a New Year's Day!
A rather bleary-eyed client had been forced into his conference room by an extremely unscheduled meeting.
What really took the client by surprise were two facts; the first was the date and time of the meeting. And the second, that it was initiated by his advertising agency, otherwise famously associated with making the trip back home at that hour.
En route to the office, he had quizzed his subordinate on the phone.
"Are you sure this is not some infantile stunt, given that they must have been partying all night yesterday?"
"I assure you, sir, they wouldn't dare. They all know about your lack of a sense of humour"
The client grunted back in satisfaction.
He paused before opening the door, fully expecting to see an empty room, with apologetic messages about 'traffic trauma' soon to come streaming in. What he saw inside began to convince him that this perhaps, was gearing up to be the year of surprises.
His agency team were seated and in a state of agitated earnest. There was an air of menacing sincerity about them.
After the perfunctory greetings were over, the client quietly seated himself on the opposite side of the table. The president of the agency rose majestically and walked across the room, his body and clothes still carrying the battle scars of one too many client meetings.
"Going somewhere?" enquired the bewildered client.
"Yes, a place we seldom visit. Your side of the table," replied the beaming president as he sat. The client pursed his lips slightly, but sensing there might be more surprises coming, volunteered his best smile.
Then the account director pushed a document across the table, it bore the title 'We solemnly swear', in an extremely self-effacing font.
"What is this?" asked the client.
"While this might seem like a document, it is more about a profound revelation we experienced last night," began the account director.
The three agency personnel, on cue, shared a deep soulful look, guaranteed to moisten the eye. He then resumed, "We decided yesterday, to unwind together. Driving around we found most places shut, extravagantly overpriced or ridiculously overcrowded. Then after taking one too many turns for the better, we stumbled on a joint we had never heard of, it was called 'A bolt of perspective'".
The creative director, unable to resist the ignominy of the spotlight being whisked away during a story-telling opportunity, changed man or not, quickly interjected, "Inside, the place, it looked like nothing we had ever seen before. There was a bartender who seemed to have wings and maybe even a halo. We asked what he would recommend and he replied 'a stiff shot of moral fibre'. A few drinks and a lot of bright lights and flying saucers later, we found ourselves back at the office, typing this document."
"And all this is relevant to my account because?"
"We are completely changing the way we will work with you henceforth," began the president.
"We will be more accountable for every campaign. We will adhere to the sanctity of deadlines and only give you work that we can proudly stand behind. We will never be late for meetings, and always return calls," added the excited account director.
"We will not create campaigns for award purposes only. Nor will we shoot in foreign locales on the pretext of better lighting for pack shots. The only work we will ever present, is that which we think will result in increased sales for you," quipped the creative director enthusiastically.
"In fact, we will completely tie in our earnings to your sales performance as well," concluded the president emphatically.
For a bit, there was silence across the table and then the client spoke.
"All this is very well, but isn't this a lot of..."
"Sorry to pre-empt, but we know what you were going to say, which is why we have signed this document," said the president.
He then turned the pages over to display the endorsement of the entire agency team for all that had just been said.
"Well I..." began the client
"You don't have to say anything," assured the president, "we were just here to communicate our new-found perspective and to affirm that you now have a team, committed like never before. Since there is nothing of equal importance to say beyond this, we will now take your leave to start work, rather than indulging in idle chit-chat. Goodbye."
The threesome then trooped out, with the purposeful poise of an elite commando squad embarking on a critical mission to save the earth.
The client sat alone in the conference room and mused for a while.
After what seemed like an eternity, he then picked up the phone and dialled his subordinate.
"You won't believe the meeting I've just had with our agency. They said some of the strangest things I have ever heard about handling an account. I am really worried. I don't think they are interested in servicing our business anymore, they just seemed too sincere."
Then, after a pause, the client added, "I think it's time we called up other agencies for a pitch."
(The author is an independent creative thinking trainer and brand ideation consultant. He has written two books, 'Lessons from the Playground' and 'The Madness Starts at 9'.)