Aging Denver Art Director Believes Next Campaign Will Be "The One"
DENVER, CO – For over twenty years, Gary Kester has worked 80-hour weeks in the hope that one of his advertising campaigns would get to print and television unsullied. Every time, intervention from the account managers, creative directors, the client, the client’s family, the client’s accountant and the receptionist has turned something that was once “a thing of beauty” into “an unmitigated shit show.”
“But this next campaign will be different,” said Kester, as he worked late into the night on an idea that even he admits is “so fucking good I’m going to quit if they don’t buy this one as it is. And this time, I’m serious. I mean really, fuck ‘em, they’ll see. They’ll miss me.”
At the ripe old age of 42, Kester has seen his fair share of rejected campaigns and mangled ideas. Once, about 11 years ago, he had a campaign go to production that was definitely “the one.”
“It was killer,” said Kester. “I mean, everyone was applauding the presentation I gave to the client. They were laughing, jumping around, they even said ‘we can only see a few places we’d make changes, but they’re tiny. Nice job!’”
As it turns out, on that occasion “the one” was put through the client’s meat grinder and became a shadow of its former self.
“It was a real shame,” mused Kester as he continued burning the midnight oil on a campaign that will change the face of the auto insurance industry as we know it. “I told everyone in the office it would win awards and be my ticket to Wieden + Kennedy. It was THAT good. But these clients, man…they take your ideas, and show them to their dumb friends and wives and kids, and ask everyone’s opinion. Before you know it, you’re stuck polishing some turd to go next to all your other turds. Not this time.”
Despite the setbacks of two decades of failed ideas and watered-down work, Kester had absolutely no hesitation in declaring this campaign the one that would break the mold and show Denver, — and America — that good ideas on insurance really can come from a regional agency.
“Look, just because the client has crapped all over the ideas for the last decade, it doesn’t mean this idea will get the same treatment. In fact, they have a new head of sales, and their own team are telling me that they’re looking for work that will really inspire them. Why would they say that if it wasn’t true? They want something new and innovative. They want me to produce an idea that will blow away their CEO. And that’s what they’re getting.”
As Kester put the finishing touches to the presentation, he cracked open a beer and put his feet on the desk. This was the pose of a man poised for victory.
“Everyone in the agency knows I’m only going to take so much shit before I move on. But this is an idea that won’t just win awards…it will win me the respect of my peers across the nation. I just know it. I feel it in my gut.”
Not everyone is as convinced as Kester, though.
“He’s been threatening to quit after every campaign fails,” says Magda, the cleaning lady who Kester confides in every night as he eats his Lean Cuisine lasagna at his desk. “But I have a feeling he might actually do it this time,” she said as she vacuumed around the dozens of rejected boards in Kester’s cubicle.
Kester presents his big idea to the client one week from today. If all goes well, “this time next year I’ll be wiping my ass with a Cannes Lion,” said Kester.
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