A LESSON IN PROCEDURE
There’s a part I love in the film ‘My Cousin Vinny’.
Vinny is defending his cousin on a murder charge.
Vinny does something wrong and the judge sentences him to a night in jail for contempt of court.
On the way to jail, Vinny’s girlfriend asks him what he did wrong.
Vinny says “I just got a lesson in procedure is all.”
His girlfriend asks what he means.
Vinny says “When you need to clean the jet-nozzle on a carburettor, what’s the first thing you do?”
Vinny’s girlfriend knows a lot about cars.
So she says you have to take the carburettor off the car first.
Vinny says “That’s right. The first thing you do is you take the carburettor off the car.
Because if you didn’t take the carburettor off the car, if you just unscrewed the jet-nozzle while the carburettor was still attached to the car, the jet-nozzle might fall down the manifold. Then it might fall into the cylinder.
Then you would have to take the entire cylinder head off just so you can get back the little jet-nozzle you dropped, right?”
His girlfriend says right.
Vinny says “And you would’ve learned the hard way that the correct procedure is to take the carburettor off first.”
His girlfriend nods.
Vinny says “Well that’s what just happened in the courtroom. I learned the correct procedure the hard way.”
And he goes off to spend the night in jail.
I love that interchange because it very simply describes why we have a correct procedure.
Why we observe certain rules and protocol even though we think we don’t need to.
Take a commercial shoot.
The correct procedure is the client talks to the account man, who talks to the creatives, who talk to the producer or director, who talks to the actors.
That’s the correct procedure.
Now, in a good relationship, it’s possible to shortcut some of those steps.
Maybe the client can talk directly to the creatives, and the creatives can talk straight to the director.
But you have to be careful.
Everyone in that process has a job to take care of.
Each time you bypass someone you’ve taken them out of the process.
The client has to concentrate on selling the product.
The account man has to hold everything on strategy.
The creatives have to make sure the end product works as an ad in an ad break.
The producer has to keep everything on time and budget.
The director has to produce a beautiful piece of film.
If you skip the middle part and the client talks directly to the director, three very important stages have been left out.
The jet-nozzle may have gone straight into the cylinder head.
The client may have been persuaded by the director that his vision of the beautiful film is better than the agency’s.
It will look much better.
But the director isn’t a specialist in advertising.
The director is a specialist in film.
And a beautiful piece of film isn’t necessarily the same thing as an advertisement.
So a middle stage has been skipped and that job won’t be done.
That’s why it works best when you stick to procedure.
And that’s what’s wrong with advertising at present.
The process disappeared when media left advertising agencies.
Now the client goes to the media company before the ad agency.
So strategy and creative are done after media has been decided.
This is putting the cart before the horse.
This is the equivalent of dropping the jet-nozzle into the cylinder head.
It looks like the easy way to do it, but actually it can work out much more expensive.
The procedural lesson, for those that choose to learn it, is that invisible work now runs in cost-effective media.
But if it doesn’t work, it’s still just wasted money.
Too bad we have to keep learning procedure the hard way.