Patrick Bale Agency, Boston, Massachusetts
“We need a face if this thing is going to work.”
Arthur Bale scans the room passing from person to person looking for a response. What he offered wasn’t that novel of an idea. He’s an ad man. And that’s what ad men do, recommend things like faces and boobs and bigger and more thinking. Yet the room isn’t following. He lands on Thomas Motley, newly anointed Chief Marketing Officer for the Human Preservation Agency, the US government’s response to the current crisis. Next to Arthur, he’s the biggest balls in the room.
“We came for your expertise, Arthur. I could get an intern to suggest a spokesperson PSA.” Motley’s team hadn’t traveled far to the doors of Patrick Bale, an independent ad agency in the heart of Boston Common. It’s a straight shot on Amtrak up the Northeast Corridor. But he provided Arthur little notice about the visit, a single text message as he boarded the train. And yet he still expects more.
Arthur continues, “Not a spokesperson. Not a PSA. A face.”
The room pulls in on Arthur, waiting for the Don Drapper moment that seems the be the hope and dream of everyone who enters the conference room these days. This is show business after all, and we all yearn to be constantly moved.
“In 1972, a small company with an abundance of wheat looked to break into the cereal business, an industry right on the cusp of the entire isle domination the you see today. This explosion would make kids interested in going to the foodstore, turn grocery shopping into a family affair, widen and lengthen store isles, and bam, corner markets become mega supermarkets.
“So this company, with no differentiation in product, wants to compete with the dominant cereal producers of the day. How do they do it? They give the brand a face. The most skeptic of skeptics, the picky-eating 5 year old. Show him eating it up and the nation follows. Make kids want it, make parents understand it.”
“Mikey likes it,” Thomas chimes in.
“Life cereal” Arthur confirms. “And well, really, who gives a damn whether he liked it or not. He ate it up on queue in front of a camera and they bought up space in every break between 6am and 9am across all three majors.”
“So bring this back around to our initiative.” Thomas sees the light, but wants the rest of the team to hear it from Arthur. “There’s a lot of people who are not going to like the idea of singling out a few for salvation.”
Arthur nods. “Let’s look at it this way. The “brothers” watching Mikey are those that are not eligible, will never be eligible, and will have a difficult time with that notion. Everyone starts with that response, no one likes the registry. But, we show a “Mikey”, someone who can get behind the registry and surprisingly like the registry. This person is adorable so no-one can reject them. We push this “face” into the spotlight, and get the eligible to want to be eligible. Separate themselves from those who are not. And then those who are not eligible, they understand, they become ok with those that are eligible to have that desire. We bottle this thing up, keep it from exploding in our faces, cause when these people get this news and find out the proposed solutions, picky-eaters will be the best we can hope for.”
Thomas nods. “So we need a Mikey.”
Arthur responds, “Exactly. I can do three teams against this. We’ll be back in 48 hours with an agency recommend.”
“That’s enough time on your end?” Thomas questions.
Plenty, when you already have the face.