Government accounts are the bread and butter of J. Walter Thompson/Atlanta.
The US Marines Corp. is a showcase client. FEMA Flood Insurance is another. Plus the US Mint. And for a time, the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was the largest account.JWT/Atlanta brilliantly acquires millions of dollars in free air time by creating ad campaigns aimed specifically at persuading TV stations to run their government spots as Public Service Announcements (PSAs).
One morning an hour before the HUD team left to present "the PSA package", somebody realized there was no actual note or letter, no message of any kind in The Package
for the TV stations.
A panicked account executive (AE) popped in my office and pleaded with me to please write a letter.
I dropped everything and knocked it out in about five minutes. There was no time for approval by a Creative Director. No AE read it either. Just 100 copies printed out on the HUD letterhead in time to catch a plane.
The AE called hours later from the hallway outside the meeting. She said a hushed silence fell across the room of about 100 HUD people as she read the letter aloud. Everything got quieter and quieter. Even after she finished, silence. She saw maybe two or three folks wipe at their eyes, like tears.
Then suddenly the room exploded with applause.
Next, a standing ovation.
Then the actual TV spot was presented, but she said there was no reaction.
JWT lost the $200M+ HUD account maybe 6 months later.Click here or on the image above to read the letter.