2005-05-06
This happened during the shooting of a commercial for Mini-Van.

Art Director: "The park isn't wooded enough. We'll need another tree right there."


Account Executive: "Maybe we should just find another location." (the
account executive is the person who will be charged with the
responsibility of explaining to the client, why the bill is higher than
the quote by a factor of twelve).

AD: "No, this is perfect."

AE: "But you said it needs another tree."


AD: "I meant except for needing another tree, it's perfect. Good Lord,
why is it that these things are so obvious to me and no one else
understands?"

AE: "How big a tree?"

AD: (exhasperatedly) "I don't know. I need a day or two for that kind of a decision."

AE: "But the ad is due by Friday."

AD: "What do you want, quick or good?"

And so it goes . . .


We had a huge Farm Machinery account. Any company that will accept over
a million bucks a year in agency billings is a huge account. This
company was not only huge, the marketing staff was a joy to deal with.
They let us put a tractor on the moon. Well, not really but it was a
great magazine ad - a tractor on a moonscape with an astronaut getting
out of it. The headline said something to the effect of: "When we need
tractors on the moon, you can bet the first one will be a
_________________."

We found a colossal sand pit outside of
town which had the perfect "moonscape." We got permission from the
cement company which owned the property to do the photo shoot.
Everything was ready for a landmark, or moonmark, magazine ad. Enter
the Art Director. "That doesn't look like a moonscape. It looks like
sand."

Turns out the sand was the wrong color. In those days,
the general public had absolutely no idea what a moonscape looked like
in color, but our art director had a subscription to National
Geographic and was therefore, an authority on moonscapes.






"Fix it in the lab," someone said. Fix it in the lab, was agency speak
for "whatever stupid mistake we've made we can always have it
airbrushed or re-touched or altered by some other photographic hocus
pocus, after the film (stills or movies) has been processed, or while
it is being processed." That was far too simple. Instead, we trucked in
300 bags of cement (dry, of course) and spread them around, not giving
a thought to the fact that the cement company might be a tad annoyed at
finding their sand was no longer just sand, but a non-scientific mix of
sand and concrete powderI think, although my memory has been known to
sabotage me, that it may have even been a competitor's brand of
concrete. The result though, was a far more realistic duplication of a
moonscape according to National Geographic and our art director.


I believe the ultimate slap in Mother Nature's face was delivered
during the photo shoot for a soap ad. It was a very gentle period in
our history so no one would have dreamt of using a picture of someone
bathing unless the model (always female of course) was totally obscured
by soap bubbles, except for the area from the bridge of her nose to the
top of her head. Even then, some group would probably have called it
erotic or titillating and we all know photos like that are major
contributors to mortal sin, especially when seen by thirteen year old
boys.

So our soap ad was, naturally, a man with his wife and
daughter, walking through a forest in the sunshine. They were all VERY
clean, a fact that was liberally sprinkled throughout the soporific
copy.

The setup took about three hours, waiting for the light
to be right, using a ton of make-up on the models to make them look
"clean" and setting up all the angles. Of course, we had to take at
least fifteen shots. That's actually five shots using a photographic
technique called bracketing. Bracketing is a technique devised by
photographers to compensate for the fact that they really don't
understand all those numbers on light meters, and also add to the
billable hours. They take the shot, then another, slightly darker, then
another, slightly brighter. Almost always, one of the three will be
useable.

Once we were all set up and ready to shoot, the art
director began stroking his chin. This was, to the rest of us, about
the same as a fire alarm or a rumble of thunder in the distance.

Then he spoke: "The leaves are the wrong color."

"They're green. What's the matter with green leaves?"

"It's the wrong color green."

"But it's the green that they ARE. They're leaves, green leaves."


Believe it or not, we all stood around, all meaning three models, an
account executive, the art director and the photographer, while the
photographer's assistant found a hardware store and bought a can of
green spray paint. Then I swear to you on my grandmother's grave, we
spray painted the leaves. It is important to note that the art director
did not supervise the choosing of the paint color.

Creativity
however was served. The ad was shot and turned out well. The people
looked clean in spite of all that make-up and the sun shone beautifully
on the freshly painted leaves. I don't know whether or not the painted
bush survived.

I hope it did. I really do.