Rob and Don discuss how they’ve handled being asked to promote products they thought were less than successful or not something they believed in.
Rob Broadfoot 0:20
Mock, the podcast.
Don Mock 0:22
Oh my god, you sound like Rachele, when she does that. She started doing that at the beginning.
Rob Broadfoot 0:26
She probably sounds a lot smoother than I do, though.
Don Mock 0:28
Yeah, yeah. Well she’s actually, as I turn away from the microphone. She was upset that she didn’t get to record the voice for the end.
Rob Broadfoot 0:40
Well, in our next series, she can be the voice.
Don Mock 0:43
Rob Broadfoot 0:44
She’s on the phone tree.
Don Mock 0:45
She is on the phone tree. Well, she’s the official voice of Mock the Agency. Yeah, exactly. That’s why she was like, Hey, why don’t you ask me? I’m not in charge of that department. Honey. Sorry.
Rob Broadfoot 0:54
Don Mock 0:56
Rob Broadfoot 0:56
- We thought it might be… we were talking about projects that we’ve worked on along the way throughout our careers. Projects, or products, or services or whatever, that either you know are destined for failure.
For a litany of reasons. Or maybe products you just don’t believe in, or have a personal aversion to or something. How do you navigate that? Are there any stories that we can tell- anecdotes- about working on projects like that? I know that you and I worked on one together many, many years ago.
Don Mock 1:37
Rob Broadfoot 1:39
So I’ll let you let you tell that story.
Don Mock 1:42
Yeah, we were working for a large packaged goods company that had… by the time it got to us, I think it had reached the point of no return. What I mean by that, is they had already sunk millions and millions of dollars in R&D into this product. And came to us with “Okay…”
Rob Broadfoot 1:59
“Here it is, we’re ready,”
Don Mock 2:00
Here it is. It’s time to help the messaging and the communication around what this product is. It was an on-the-go product. So it was kind of a grab-and-go product. Where the millions of dollars had come in and was really more on the industrial design of the product and sort of how it worked, right?
Rob Broadfoot 2:17
I would venture to guess that most of the money was spent there, based on what it was,
Don Mock 2:21
Yeah. So it was “Oh, we finally perfected how this thing works.” But by the time it landed on our desks, we were like, Hmm, did anybody really stop and think about like, yes, it works. But…
Rob Broadfoot 2:37
But no, it won’t work.
Don Mock 2:39
Yeah. Did anybody think like that this is a good idea. Or secondly, that like, that anybody needs this? Like, we’ve joked on the previous podcasts, Hey, Apple did a great job with iPods and things like that. But well before phones, we didn’t know we needed things, until they told us we needed things. And it was like, “Oh, yeah, all this music on this device. What a great idea.” This was kind of the opposite of that o, hey, no one no one was asking for this. No one really needs this thing how much… what i… like, what…?
Rob Broadfoot 3:15
Let’s let’s describe it without naming names. Here’s what it was. The concept was cereal on-the-go.
Don Mock 3:23
Rob Broadfoot 3:24
This was cereal that you can eat on the go.
Don Mock 3:26
Yeah, one-handed cereal consumption in your car.
Rob Broadfoot 3:28
Yeah. and we’ve all… I’ve told you, my kids- God bless them- sometimes ask to eat cereal in the car and I look at ’em with just utter disbelief that they would even ask me that question. Why? Well, no.
Don Mock 3:45
Every time this has come up, I’ve said you have to watch the episode of Sunny in Philadelphia, where the guy’s eating cereal in the car and it gets rear-ended. He spills cereal all over the car.
Rob Broadfoot 3:54
The notion of eating cereal in the cars is just insane to me. But somebody apparently thought that people wanted to have cereal on the go.
Don Mock 4:01
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well there is something interesting about the last bite of cereal being just as crunchy and new as potentially the first bite of cereal. If you want that, because we don’t have that now. Right now when you milk it, by the end- unless it’s Grape Nuts- by the end, it has absorbed some of the milk. You just can’t physically eat it fast enough. Maybe there was some of that at play.
Rob Broadfoot 4:25
Don Mock 4:25
But we were… the name came to us, I think and I can’t remember if the logo came to us or not. But it was a lot of messaging around that, a lot of obviously design surrounding, a lot of point of sale messaging…
Rob Broadfoot 4:37
And describe how it worked.
Don Mock 4:39
Okay we want to go that way.
Rob Broadfoot 4:40
The mechanism, yeah.
Don Mock 4:41
All right. So there is an outer chamber. Imagine you’re holding your Yeti, your Yeti cup or whatever. Then there is a secondary thing. The lid goes on top of your Yeti, but imagine underneath that lid is a vessel that holds all of- you’re laughing- that holds all of the cereal. So technically what you do is, you pull it out, you take off the lid, which has the thing, you pour the milk into the cup, right. Then you put it back together and then you tear a lid off. Then the milk mixes in your mouth with the cereal.
Rob Broadfoot 5:20
Right, right. So problem number one.
Don Mock 5:25
I can’t believe we’re being this descriptive.
Rob Broadfoot 5:27
A traditional bowl of cereal, what do you pour first?
Don Mock 5:30
You pour the milk right on top of the cereal.
Rob Broadfoot 5:32
You pour the cereal then you pour the milk. This was flipping that on its head. Now we’re pouring milk first. Which, okay.
Don Mock 5:39
But not on the cereal.
Rob Broadfoot 5:41
But not on the cereal.
Don Mock 5:42
You’re pouring it into the outer vessel.
Rob Broadfoot 5:44
Don Mock 5:44
Right. and then you then you compact them both together. You click them both together. Then you release the cereal. And then you shake it and kind of drink it in your mouth. So as everyone can imagine, and we’re sitting here laughing about it, but as everyone can imagine, we have 100 plus years of pouring milk on cereal. And now-
Rob Broadfoot 6:08
It’s a pretty simple process.
Don Mock 6:11
Our main point of emphasis is, whatever you do, do not pour the milk. The first step is don’t do that. So the focus groups, the testing, I mean, everyone does this thing where we had to develop kind of a… I think we did an amazing job. We hired this amazing illustrator. I mean, we did the yeoman’s job. As great as-
Rob Broadfoot 6:29
We did the best we could do with what we had.
Don Mock 6:31
Yeah, exactly, to create kind of a three-step or a four-step process of “Here’s how to properly use this device.We had a cool blueprint kind of look. I mean, it was cutting edge for the time, you know. I do remember seeing it out in the wild, after it did launch. I do remember seeing it. I think maybe it was in airports or something.
You caught it during that one week that it was on the shelves.
Yeah, it’s an interesting thing. I think we all scratched our heads, and then it’s like, “Hey, guys, we have to do the best job we can possibly do to try to make this thing as successful as possible.” But there is a certain threshold where, it could be the most amazing ad or design or whatever on the planet, but the product itself just wasn’t a need for anybody. let’s not even talk about price point and things like that. It was an interesting. I think we can get the giggles out in the launch meeting. But then you got to knuckle down and try to do the best job you can. And you have to do that tightrope dance of explaining to your client, like, This is why this is the solve for this, while delicately telling them, This is why we have to combat this communication objective or things like that.
Rob Broadfoot 7:51
Well, I think it’s A. It’s hard to call anyone’s baby ugly.
Don Mock 7:56
Yeah, exactly. I mean, he’s ugly.
Rob Broadfoot 7:57
You never like to do that. B. I think, and this is true in in our case, sometimes too. When it is your baby, whatever it is, whether it’s a product or an idea, or an invention or whatever, you get so deep into it.
Don Mock 8:15
You’re close to it.
Rob Broadfoot 8:15
You’re so close to it, that it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. I know that’s happened, certainly with concepts along the way where you get a concept and you’re like, “Oh, This is the best thing ever.” And you work on it. You work on it. You craft it, you craft. Then finally somebody just goes “Well, yeah, but
Don Mock 8:34
Did you think of this?”
Rob Broadfoot 8:35
Did you think of this and you just go, “Oh, I’m gonna crawl up into a ball and cry.”
Don Mock 8:41
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Rob Broadfoot 8:43
So I think that happens to everybody. But that was one fun example of a product that we knew was, This is not gonna work.But yeah. So So pot committed, I think at that point. It was an engineer’s dream, I would imagine.
Don Mock 8:58
Oh, yeah. Trying to figure-
Rob Broadfoot 9:00
Figure that thing out.
Don Mock 9:01
There are CAD drawings out the wazoo on this thing. But you know, the land of, the intersection of human behavior, need, and then advertising and marketin. On that one, I don’t think really worked really well, if that makes any sense. So any other thoughts around things that potentially might not work or not necessarily doomed from the start, but…
Rob Broadfoot 9:24
No, I mean, I think I’ve never really had to work. I always wonder what it would be like, if you were at a shop where, I don’t know, depending on what you believed in or what. Let’s pick on cigarettes first. If you were the junior creative and a shop and you had the Marlboro account. How you would navigate doing that. I think that would be difficult to do.
Don Mock 9:53
Yeah. I mean, we’re both alike in that we’ve never had to really work on any sort of toxic accounts or things like selling cigarettes to kids or doing like doing bad things. Things that we don’t necessarily ethically believe in. I do know anecdotally though, that speaking of cigarettes, after Joe Camel and all that stuff, and it’s amazing to me, Jules still got busted with all this advertising to minors and influencers and things like that. Especially after the Joe Camel, sort of debacle. The traditional methodology is marketing departments hire us, we work with them, the marketing directors and everything. Then it goes through legal for approval, and then it goes out in the world. Once the Joe Campbell hit, I know a lot of smokeless tobacco and tobacco accounts, flipped. They went the other way, meaning no creatives would actually- I don’t know if it’s still the case- But there was a there was a good blip in time where creative was developed and then run through legal before it went to the client. Yeah, so that the clients could have, they could only view things-
Rob Broadfoot 10:55
They could only buy things that they knew were approved.
Don Mock 10:57
Yeah, I don’t know if you want to call that plausible deniability or sheltering them from litigation or things lik tha.
Rob Broadfoot 11:05
Under those circumstances, it seems absolutely like the right thing to do.
Don Mock 11:08
Well, people lost hundreds of millions… so we definitely went from five out of five doctors recommend Camel cigarettes. Yeah, to “Hey, now you can only review the creative once it’s gone through screening.” So I thought that was interesting,. But neither one of us have really had to work on that type of business. I have had to work on projects. and- as you have to actually- where there are some potentially dubious health claims. We’ve joked in the past, 1/3 less sugar doesn’t mean that it’s healthy.
Rob Broadfoot 11:43
Don Mock 11:43
Right. So do you believe in that? That’s not a strong vehement draw a line in the sand. It is sometimes hard to say, “Yeah, let’s do a health health care message.”
Rob Broadfoot 11:53
Don Mock 11:53
When it’s still… it’s a candy or whatever, you know what I mean? Those things don’t go together. TThat type of thing. But I can’t think of anything where it’s ultimate sin, or political or any of that hot buttony-
Rob Broadfoot 12:08
I think that would be really, really difficult to do.
Don Mock 12:12
Yeah, I think it would, too.
Rob Broadfoot 12:13
Whether it’s a religious thing, or a health thing, or whatever it is. If you’re not in alignment with whatever it is, I think it would be impossible to design or create or write against that product, in supportive of it
Don Mock 12:26
Agreed. Well, we’ve done previous podcasts on the greatest part of our jobs, we just talk about the education and the field trips, and the learning, all these different things. I think most of our stuff that we get to work on, we’ve been fortunate in that it is cool stuff like that. It’s like, Whoa, This is awesome. This is a new emerging technology that helps someone heal themselves, or help someone do something better or faster or quick. You know what I mean? That type of thing, So that’s always fun.
Rob Broadfoot 12:57
Yeah. We actually do work on a fair amount of alcohol products.
Don Mock 13:04
Yeah, I guess that’s…
Rob Broadfoot 13:05
Doing some creative. So depending on where you stood there, that could be I guess, deemed as… now we’re not…
Don Mock 13:12
Yeah. It’s still Please drink responsibly, but it’s not…
Rob Broadfoot 13:18
We’re not selling jello shots to Spring Breakers. You know.
Don Mock 13:23
Yeah, I’m trying to think of it. I mean, it’s a lot outreach and, and availability of new flavors and new products and things like that, and existing channels that are sheltered. It is interesting that you bring that up, though, that’s for sure. Anything else from a previous life? Maybe you I mean, I will say tthis, we both have had a lot of pitch meetings with their-
Rob Broadfoot 13:53
Don Mock 13:54
Is that what you were gonna say?
- With people that have come in that potentially wanted to hire us. and we’ve been like, what?,
Rob Broadfoot 14:00
Yeah, we’ll set a few instances where people have tapped into their entrepreneurial spirit, maybe in a bad way.
Don Mock 14:08
Rob Broadfoot 14:09
And I’ve come up with what they deemed to be the greatest idea ever and we’ve had to be like, I don’t think we’re the right fit. I don’t think we’re the right fit for that.
Don Mock 14:19
Yeah, yeah, we’re gonna pass on that one.
Rob Broadfoot 14:20
Thankfully, we haven’t seen any of those products blow up.
Don Mock 14:25
Rob Broadfoot 14:27
Battting a 1000 in that.
Don Mock 14:28
Yeah. “Those were the guys that passed on getting in on the ground floor on such and such.” No, none of those have taken off yet. So yeah, there’s some funny stories funny stories about that. But I will say this, it’s always interesting to meet those people. And go through that experience, and understand what were their mindset and consideration is on on inventions and creations. We won’t name names on on those fronts.
Rob Broadfoot 14:55
Hey, you can’t hit it if you don’t swing. Not trying to discourage anybody. But anyway. Just some fun anecdotes. I think from the past. Certainly the cereal goes down as one of the odder, stranger things that we’ve worked on I think in our careers.
Don Mock 15:15
Rob Broadfoot 15:16
And all the kids out there listening, the answer is no, you cannot eat cereal in the car. There’s no cereal in the car.
Don Mock 15:23
Okay, hold on, quick time out.
Rob Broadfoot 15:25
Stick with the muffin, stick with a muffin.
Don Mock 15:26
What if you’re two, and you have the cup full of Cheerios? That’s different.
Rob Broadfoot 15:32
Don Mock 15:33
That’s acceptable, right?
Rob Broadfoot 15:36
Don Mock 15:37
A long pause on that one.
Rob Broadfoot 15:39
I think that’s…. No, but the Cheerios don’t have milk in them.
Don Mock 15:41
No, no, no, we had that… it’s like a sippy cup thing with that weird little lid that you can reach your hand in.
Rob Broadfoot 15:48
It’s a no milk policy.
Don Mock 15:49
No milked cereal in the car.
Rob Broadfoot 15:51
It’s a no milk policy. Any drink has to have a lid on it.
Don Mock 15:55
Rob Broadfoot 15:56
There’s no like open Cup.
Don Mock 15:58
Yeah, right. I’m with you.
Rob Broadfoot 16:00
You gotta have a secured lid.
Don Mock 16:01
Totally agree. Totally agreed.
Well, thankfully, our kids are older so we don’t have to worry about that anymore.
Rob Broadfoot 16:05
You shouldn’t drink milk in the car anyway. Not even with a lid on it. Just seems weird.
Don Mock 16:13
Yeah, is milk a to-go item.
Rob Broadfoot 16:14
No, no, no.
Don Mock 16:16
Do you only drink milk in the privacy of your own home? Is that when you drink milk?
Rob Broadfoot 16:21
Yeah, I’m trying to think.
Don Mock 16:21
I mean, you can buy like muscle milk and all the milk at the convenience store down the street.
Rob Broadfoot 16:26
You can do it. There’s a lot of things you can do. It doesn’t mean you should.
Don Mock 16:29
Yeah. All right. There we go. We’re speaking the same language.
Rob Broadfoot 16:32
Milk in your coffee. milk in your coffee is acceptable in the car.
Don Mock 16:36
Rob Broadfoot 16:36
That’s when you can bring milk in the car.
Don Mock 16:38
I do that every single day. I’m with you. All right, we should wrap this one up.
Rob Broadfoot 16:42
Alright, everybody. Thanks for tuning in. We will catch you next time. Of course, you can find us in the meantime online, on the interwebs at mocktheagency.com or on all the socials @mocktheagency. Drop us a note. We would love to hear from you. Talk to you next time.
Don Mock 16:57