Simon came back from a meeting with the account team and, boy, was he miffed.
They were discussing the next steps on our Clio-winning campaign for New York State. Our campaign juxtaposed upstate images with phrases associated with the City. So, for example, the title would say, “The Great White Way,” but instead of showing Broadway, we showed Niagara Falls.
Well, Simon was feeling disrespected and insulted. “Mike, “ he said, “everyone keeps calling our campaign, ‘Juxtapositions.’ Well, it may be juxtaposition, but it’s a good position!”
Back 30 years ago, I had a work partner. Let’s call him Simon. Simon was my friend and art director. He was an ambitious, hard-working young man from Brooklyn. But, while he was industrious and creative, he was not exactly a wordsmith. His malaprops were legendary.
Now, all of us fumble over new words. (Who amongst has not heard “Euthanasia” and thought “kids in China”?) But Simon had some doozies.
Here are three more of his greatest hits.
Once we were pitching one of the two major credit card brands. And, as was often the case when big companies pitched big brands, the strategy would evolve and change over the length of the pitch.
So, two weeks before the actual pitch date, the strategy was re-written to a multi-benefit platform, referred to in the shorthand as the “omnibus” strategy. Again, Simon expressed frustration. “Mike,” he said, “I’m not sure about this new strategy. I mean, I don’t even know where the omnibus goes.”
We’d listen to the radio back then. And we’d discussed the different songs that came on and our associations with each one. I expressed a kinship with a certain Meatloaf classic from the late 1970s. “I can really relate to this song, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” Because when it came out, I was in high school and we’d go “parking” in cars with our dates.” Simon concurred. “Yeah, I can really relate to it, too. Cause I had a paradise by the dashboard light. A nice fuzzy pair.”
Lastly, even by the pre-metoo standards of the 1980s, Simon was considered a bit of a letch or creeper. For example, he would give unsolicited back rubs to young women in the office. Finally, I decided I had to say something.
“Simon,” I said, “you can’t just be touching women like that. It makes them uncomfortable. You’re going to get in trouble with HR. In fact, some people are calling you a misogynist.” Simon was undeterred. “I’m proud to be a misogynist. Who doesn’t like a good massage?”