It’s 2011 my creative partner and I are working at small agency network down under. One afternoon we’re approached by the ECD.
He had an idea: ”what if you can show a life flashback using your facebook photos to warn people of the dangers of reckless driving?”
It’s pro-bono, he continued, so you’ll have to work on it in your own time.
We knuckle down.
We come up with a fake online car racing game idea to entice those with the need for speed to face the consequences of their actions:
He loved it but we get busy with fee-based work and nothing happens.
Cut to the end of 2012 and our digital work gains industry traction. It’s quite the turn around for the traditional agency and we go on to contribute 75% of the agency’s award output.
They go on to claim a record year for winning awards.
Fortunes swiftly change and the agency loses a big client.
They need to make cuts.
You’re too expensive. We’ve not got enough digital work. We need to focus on our core business. We’re letting you go.
And that was that.
—Six months pass—
Be productively surfing the internet.
A wild message appears in my inbox: “Have you seen this from X’s sister agency?”
“In a new racing game called Flash, young guys get confronted with the all too real consequences of speeding. The car swerves, crashes, and then something really surprising happens.”
My attention is diverted to the credits. The work is from an agency in the same small group where I worked. And lo, the ECD’s name is credited as the copywriter.
So I call ECD, he’s a nice chap. He tells me he spent some time at the sister agency earlier in the year and much to his surprise they coincidently, and unbeknownst to him, worked up the exact execution we gave him…and happened to finish it during his stay. Remarkable.
He continues. He only appears in the credits because he also had the idea with them many years ago. This rings a bell. He invites me to contact the sister agency.
So I drop the sister agency an email. Ask for clarification. The ECD acknowledges the extraordinary coincidence, but confirms the work of my creative partner and I played no role in the sister agency’s work, and as such does not require further accreditation.
I believe him. It’s a pretty obvious execution, and the creative team come with a solid reputation.
As a parting gift he left me with this little gem:
In my thirty years in advertising I have come to believe we are influenced by some sort of mystical collective energy.
It often colludes to create the same piece of work the same time in different markets, he continued. And as frustrating as it is, when it happens he and the other ECD agree the best thing do is go in search of the next big idea and make sure it comes to life and gets made.
Unlike the sister agency ECD I don’t believe in some mystical force governing the creative industry. Coincidences happen.
And instead of having big ideas that don’t get made. I wasted my time making this petty comic of little or no merit.