Years ago, me and Rod Broomfield were working on a job for Castrol. It was one of those disheartening ones where you knew you weren’t going to get any finished work out of it.
They wanted a ‘workbook of ideas’ which they could send to other countries and their respective agencies would photograph and work up the ideas for local markets. We did the ideas, other agencies around the world got the kudos.
One particular part of this was to ‘big up’ Castrol. We did our research and discovered that Castrol was used by the Wright Brothers at Kittyhawk.
It was also used to break the landspeed record, fastest lap by a formula one race car etc etc – a whole plethora of firsts. We produced an ad all about ‘Castrol coming first’ – I can’t remember the headline but it was big, it was bold and Castrol loved it.
Armed with all these amazing firsts we had to find images to support them – nobody reads words anymore, they like to stare at pretty pictures.
We found this fantastic grainy brown tranparency (tranny) of the Wright Brothers plane flying through a murky brown meadow and it looked amazing. Perfect for the job, I thought. But then Rod, being the perfectionist that he is, found a fault. The plane was flying off into the distance. All we had was the plane’s arse.
Rod explained that it would be better if we could find a transparency where we could see the front of the plane.
The account handler on the job – who shall remain nameless – looked at the picture of the plane flying off and said ‘But can’t we just flip the transparency so the plane is flying towards us.’
At first we didn’t understand what she was talking about. Even if you flipped the tranny the plane would still be flying away from us but instead of flying off to the left, it would be flying off to the right.
Rod, ever the considerate fellow, burst out laughing while the poor account handler looked on puzzled by our reaction.
When we could calm Rod down enough to form coherent sentences again. We explained that a plane flying away on a picture will always be a plane flying away.
Just when I thought Rod had stopped his endless laughing, he then asked the account handler ‘Did she look down the back of the television to see if there were little men inside?’
I don’t think we ever worked with that particular account handler, ever again.