Long ago – at least in Internet terms – we rebuilt Lexus.com from the ground up. At the time, Lexus thought that while we were good at doing creative shit, we were a bit weak in the backend department. Granted my ass isn’t quite the twin domes of titanium like it used to be, but that’s not what they were talking about. It just meant that programming, database-related tasks, and all those other hardcore geeky jobs weren’t our agency’s strongpoint. After all, we were still mostly a traditional ad agency that did TV commercials and print ads. We jumped into the Internet game relatively late.
So they brought in Mega-Global Interactive Agency to work with us. Now back in 2000, before Internet stocks became as valuable as the dead flies you find at the bottom of your window, there were a lot of arrogant fucks in the Internet industry. And after our first joint meeting with them, I came to the realization that Mega Agency was the market leader in self-important pricks.
Although they were supposed to stick to handling the back-end part of building the Web site, it didn’t take too long before they were trying to tell us how to do the creative parts as well. They basically wanted the site to look like Yahoo or Amazon. And the scary part was that our client Lexus was buying into it.
I couldn’t take it any more. I wrote a two-page email that informed Mega Agency that while we “appreciated” their feedback on our creative work, it was quite obvious that they didn’t know shit about selling a luxury automotive brand. When I’d argue with them in conferences, it was like arguing against the Borg, or the bad guys from the Matrix. It got worse. One of their project heads even had to be taken away in an ambulance after a heated board room discussion. And the sick part was we joked about it afterward.
In the end we all called a truce, but Mega Agency actually won the war. We would have to work within their rules and parameters. We managed to salvage some shred of emotion and aesthetics on the site – which is still up - but it clearly wasn’t what we wanted. When Lexus.com launched, I fucking washed my hands of the whole thing. Disowned the bastard site.
Over the past year-and-a-half, after spending $20-fricking-million on the site, Lexus began to realize that maybe we were right. Mega Agency got exposed for being the frauds they were. They got booted out, their stock price fell to Bangladesh bus fare levels, and all the arrogant fucks became laid-off fucks.
Lexus then spent another shitload of money on focus group-testing and marketing research to realize something that my art director and I had been screaming ‘til we were blue in the face. What they “learned” was that the site should be cooler. Better-looking. Ass-kicking.
So how do my art director and I get rewarded? We don’t. We have a month to come up with cooler, better-looking, ass-kicking new ideas for the soon-to-be-redesigned Lexus.com. Granted, we have another creative team helping us, but this could be a shitload of work. I had to postpone my Hawaii trip (Where’s a violin player when you need one?). Someone even mentioned in a horrified whisper that we might have to work a weekend … or two. And worst of all, this could seriously cut into my precious procrastinating time.
Damn, I suck at self pity.
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