An Old Master

The advertising executive was meeting with the potential new client — the owner of the most successful and prestigious art gallery in the world. Dozens of sixteenth- to eighteenth-century paintings had been displayed and exchanged hands at astonishing prices. With success came expansion, and the gallery owner was looking for the right agency to handle his projected new advertising budget.

The campaign was to be elegant, tasteful, and focused at the well-heeled, discriminating buyer who wanted to view or own genuine old masters.

For weeks our advertising executive labored over the campaign. It was masterful; it was creative; it was painstakingly thought out. It was targeted exactly to the market as described. Our boy knew he had a winner.

In keeping with the detail keynoting every step of the ad campaign, he dressed carefully for the meeting which would unveil it: the white shirt and dark blue suit. He surveyed his ties — refined and tasteful he thought. He chose a silk polka-dot — restrained and understated but undeniably elegant.

He went to the presentation more sure of himself than ever before. This one could not fail.

But it did. The gallery owner sat stonily viewing the outlined campaign. From the very first, the exec sensed some wave of disapproval from the gallery owner. What could have gone wrong?

When he heard that the account had gone to his chief competition, he was so crestfallen that he went to the gallery owner to find out what had happened.

“Please,” he said, “tell me what made you choose the other agency.”

“Your campaign was brilliant,” the gallery owner answered sadly, “and would have done honour to my name and my profession and the old world artists I deal in. It was much better than your competition.”

“But, if you felt that way, why didn’t you choose my campaign?” He was stupefied.

“It was your tie.”

“My tie? But I chose that polka-dot especially.”

“But you chose it more in Seurat than in Ingres!”

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