I began trying to get into the jingle business in the mid 1970s; making the rounds of Madison Avenue ad agencies and music production companies, large and small. My demo reel was pretty thin but I was diligent about calling back “next week” and trying to get a meeting with whoever called the shots. Most of them were “too busy” to actually meet with me, so I’d drop off my reel and business card at their office and follow up by “calling back next week” to remind them to listen and get their reaction.
They generally told me to get lost, but a few one-man jingle shops were more receptive – Stan Applebaum, Louise Messina, Marc Brown – or maybe it was just a slow day and they were bored. I actually got in to see some more than once, and would call every time I’d updated my demo. When I asked Norm Richards how he got business from agencies, he told me he treated the ad guys to lavish lunches – maybe he was hinting that he himself was hungry? Whatever – it was something I sure couldn’t afford to do.
A decade later, after our first foray to Los Angeles, we’d bounced back to Chicago and were frantically making sales calls to Michigan Avenue agencies. We’d been leaving messages for the Head of Production at N.W. Ayer-Chicago every other day for weeks. Finally he took our call and agreed to let us take him out to lunch. We could hardly wait for him to hear our new jingle reel! “Friday,” he said. “Let’s try that new Italian place on E. Huron – Avanzare, I think it’s called.”
“Sure!” We were really excited; this was a super elegant 4-star cloth-napkin-upscale-everyone-wants-to-go-to place that we’d read glowing reviews in the trades and heard all the ad folks buzzing about.
We got there early to suss out the menu; everything sounded delicious, came ala carte and was quite pricey – no Businessman’s Lunch here!
But no worries – this guy was the Head of Production! He could throw a lot of work our way! What’s an expensive lunch in the grand scheme of things?
He arrived a few minutes late, apologized for his tardiness and immediately ordered a dry martini. Then appetizers. Another martini. Then soup. Then the most expensive entree. And wine.
Then he told us this was his “farewell lunch”, as today was his last day at N.W.Ayer, and he was retiring from advertising.
At least he didn’t order dessert.