I got a potato gun a couple of weeks ago. It’s really cool and it shoots real potatoes. It’s made of PVC pipe and powered by hairspray. When you press the igniter, a small explosion occurs inside the gun, blasting the potato several hundred yards.
I didn’t actually buy the potato gun. It just showed up. It came to my office at BooneOakley via FedEx in a big brown box. I opened the box and had no idea what it was. It looked like a bunch of plumbing supplies. I reached inside for the instruction manual, opened it and what did I find? A copywriter’s portfolio. Yes, a writer actually thought he could get me to look at his book if he bribed me with a potato gun. You know what? He was right. Not only did I look at his book, (which by the way, was very good) I invited him to come to BO to show me how to operate the potato gun.
It really got me to thinking. What was the best stunt a writer or art director had done to get me to look at their work? The worst was easy. Easy to remember because it was so bad. Someone sent a mannequin leg from the knee down wearing a Chuck Taylor sneaker and it said something about wanting to get a foot in the door at BO. His portfolio was even worse. But I want to talk about the best and most memorable thing a creative has ever done to get our attention.
Without question, the most unforgettable stunt was engineered by Lauren Greer. Lauren was a junior writer, who at the time was working at a small agency in Texas. She sent her work to me in a brown envelope. Her work was nice and for some reason I called her. We talked about what was working and what wasn’t in her book. I told her that we didn’t have any openings right then, but she should stay in touch.
She did. Every few months, Lauren would send her latest work to me. Some of it was produced. Some of it was spec. Not all of it was good. Some of it was great. But the best part was her persistence.
During an e-mail conversation, she told me that she was very excited because she was going to California to produce a couple of TV spots. I congratulated her and asked when she was going. Coincidently, John Boone and I were going to be out there at the same time.
We exchanged phone numbers and she said she would call us the following Tuesday, which was an off day for both of our productions.
Just as we had planned, Lauren called me on Tuesday.
“Where do you want to meet?” I asked.
“I don’t know. How about a bar in Santa Monica?”
“I don’t know the names of any.”
“How ‘bout we just meet on the 3rd Street Promenade? Then we could find a place together to grab a beer.” Lauren replied.
“Sounds good to me. So where exactly?”
“In front of Anthropologie”
“But how will we know it’s you? We don’t know what you look like.” I asked.
“I know what you and John look like. I’ve seen your picture on your website.”
“Cool. See you there.”
We finished shooting that day and John Boone and I went to Santa Monica to meet Lauren. We got to Anthropologie right at 7 o’clock. We stood there looking around for Lauren. Every girl that walked by, we wondered if it was Lauren.
Then an unkept, slightly smelly homeless woman walked up beside us pushing a grocery cart full of blankets, cans and plastic bottles. She looked toward us and stuck out her hand. I looked down and reached in my pocket to get some change to give her. Then she made eye contact with John and said, “Hi are you John?” John didn’t say anything and looked at me.
The woman then looked at me and said, “Are you David?”
“Yes,” I said totally astounded.
“My name’s Lauren. Nice to meet you.” I shook her hand and replied, “The pleasure’s all mine.” John stood there stunned, with his mouth open so wide you could have stuck a cantaloupe in it.
Talk about an awkward moment. Lauren the copywriter was homeless. The three of us just stood there, staring at each other.
From behind us, we then heard another voice. “Betty, I see that you met John and David.”
Lauren the homeless lady looked at us and said, “Guys, I’m not Lauren. I’m Betty. She pointed at a young blond women in her mid twenties standing behind us. “That’s the real Lauren.” Then Betty started laughing and said, “We got you. We got you two good.”
The new Lauren then said to Betty, “Thank you so much for helping me with my introduction.”
“You’re welcome, Lauren. See you later,” and she pushed her shopping cart away and disappeared into the night.
“So I’m the real Lauren Greer,” the real Lauren Greer said.
“Lauren Greer. Let’s get a beer,” I said and the three of us went to Yankee Doodles.
I’ll never forget that introduction. Lauren had a great book. But her personality was even better. Her ability to think on her feet and orchestrate that deceptive introduction was absolutely brilliant. We loved it.
Did we hire Lauren? No. But we really should have.
A couple of years later, Lauren Greer got married to Bill Bayne. So now her name is Lauren Bayne. She went on to become one of the best creative recruiters in the country. Recently, she started a company called TX M.I.L.K., which is all about inspiring conversations with Texas' most fascinating moms. Check it out at http://txmilk.com Even though she's no longer a "headhunter", if you're looking for a job in advertising, you should still talk with Lauren. She knows how to get noticed.