During the Super Bowl, we all anxiously wait for those memorable commercials. My personal favorite this year was a Bridgestone ad where a company employee accidentally hit “reply all” when sending an inappropriate e-mail to his co-worker. While the ad itself was quite hilarious, the scenario was actually based on the real, humiliating experiences of a creative at the Richards Group.
A few months after last year’s Super Bowl, the agency started brainstorming ideas for this year’s potential hit. Creative Bill Cochran decided that in order to get himself and partner Patrick Murray psyched about competing for the next Bridgestone ad, it would be a good idea to write an informal e-mail discussing all the other creative teams they were up against. “I started breaking it down by name–the teams that I thought were really gonna bring it, as well as some teams that I thought we didn’t have to present against… It was pretty much unedited thoughts from my head.”
After Cochran finished the e-mail, he accidentally hit “Reply All”, sending it to everyone in his office. A few minutes later, he got a puzzling email from another co-worker about this “strange email” Cochran had just sent out. “All I know is just the blood completely rushed out of my head. I felt lightheaded.”
Six hundred Richards Group employees worked in the building and Cochran estimates that the e-mail reached most of them within minutes. He became the laughing stock of the agency and even worse, he had to face all the creatives mentioned in that e-mail on a daily basis – those he admired, those he deemed unworthy, and those who he felt weren’t even worth mentioning.
He contemplated whether or not he would survive at the agency but kept his focus on the work at hand. At the next pitch meeting, Cochran knew that only one thing would be on people’s mind as he spoke, and that he “might as well walk through the fire and address it.” As a sort of self-effacing joke, he floated an idea of a spot called “Reply All.”
The more he and his partner thought about it, though, they realized that the idea had real potential and decided to develop an actual spot concept based on Cochran’s faux pas. To his amazement, the concept he and Murray came up with won over his colleagues, and finally Bridgestone. The ad aired just this past Sunday and the full version can be viewed here:
Source: David Zax, How a Real “Reply-All” Faux Pas Yielded Comedy Gold”, www.fastcompany.com