Things certainly took a turn to the worse at SCDP and office politics got very personal and a bit ugly. A dizzying amount of action is swirling around the agency, and virtually none of it is contributing to creating great advertising or moving the agency ahead. There are no new business wins to boost morale and revenue and SCDP seems to be stuck in neutral. When presented with the golden opportunity to land a prestigious car account without a pitch, the partners blow it. They manage to snatch defeat and divisiveness from the jaws of victory and harmony. These personal shortcomings and professional conflicts create an atmosphere of humiliation, loss of momentum, and a waning sense of purpose at SCDP.
I Can Get New Business Too
New business is the lifeblood of an agency and is governed by one simple ethos. You do whatever it takes to land the account. A point person is designated to lead the charge and the agency puts together a specially choreographed team that will “connect” with the prospect and deliver the best work. Those connections take many forms and sometimes can include a boys’ night out. Personal lives are put on hold, egos get checked at the door, values and ethics get challenged, all of which create a tension and urgency that permeate every phase of the pitch process. In well run agencies this takes shape as is a healthy tension that drives everyone to do their best and unites partners and key employees around a common cause. Unfortunately, at SCDP this tension is anything but healthy and threatens to tear the agency apart.
The Jaguar account is Lane’s big opportunity to make a contribution beyond operations and play in the game with Don, Roger, and Pete. Lane is naturally excited when he announces his contact and hot lead at the partner meeting. The partners are a bit surprised by it and everyone is supportive except Pete. Don suggests to Roger that Lane could use some advice. Still smarting from his diminished role, Roger declares himself “professor emeritus” of accounts and agrees to give Lane some pointers. Lane gladly accepts Roger’s suggestions on how to bond with the client and extract some valuable information for the pitch. He is eager to put them to work at dinner. When Lane’s dinner yields no substantive direction, the big boys decide to take over. Their suggestion that they meet with the client to soften him up so Lane can close the deal as a personal friend is met with some skepticism from Lane, but he agrees. Roger’s advice sums it up well. "Why would you want to hit a golf ball from the tee when you can hit it from the green.” Finally, some harmony and camaraderie seem possible among the partners.