THE ADVENTURES OF MR. NICE GUY
(Based on partly true events in
the life of a free-lance advertising consultant in Palm Beach County)
Mr. Nice Guy Romances
an Auto Dealership
Chuck Jamm, sales manager for "In & Out
Motors," explained to Mr. Nice Guy why car dealers have to be careful
about advertising ideas: "It never would have happened if I had been
here. I took a week off--first vacation in eight years and this bookish
copywriter they kept in the back room at the agency happened to get
loose at the same time--a coincidence, I guess--and he sells my second
in command on this "Shakespearean Shoutdown Sell-A-Thon" promotion. He's
got my salesmen prancing around in tights with codpieces and swords
hanging off their belts dragging the floor--every time they turn around
I've got another scratched unit lined up for the body shop! Anyway, when
the ups hit the floor, one salesman was supposed to pipe up to another
salesman like an aside on stage, with something like, "What ho,
stableman, equip this noble venturer with the finest steed quartered in
let the price be fair--fair as his visage,' or if it was a woman, 'fair
as this damsel's skin'."
"And the other salesman would chime in with 'Nay, oh, nay, good
sir. The finest steed, but at a fair price cut in twain! That ever after
he love us twice the measure'--I don't remember all the nonsense he put
us through. The upshot of it was sales were zip and we lost money in a
lawsuit brought by a lady who fainted from fright over a sword fight
between the F & I man and a disgruntled salesman whose prospect's credit
was nixed by the same F & I man. The lady had a bad heart. She was OK.
Her lawyer told us she sued just in case. Worse yet, the F & I man got
sulky and quit on us two weeks later. Best F & I man I ever had!"
"So you can see why we're scared about handing over our advertising
to new people. But the agency we're with now has us into clowns and hot
dogs. They don't have a lot of ideas, but they get our advertising out
"Now, the hot dog crowd does buy cars sometimes and the clowns
occasionally, accidentally help sell a car, but we want a stronger, more
upscale, unified image here at 'In & Out.'"
Mr. Nice Guy took his cue to speak: "We'll emphasize a highly
competent, well-established dealership capable of competitive pricing
due to dependably high monthly volume. Throw in a fanatic dedication to
service, a vast selection of cars and trucks, and salesmen with the
highest business ethics in the car business and we'll have 'em lined up
around the block."
"Sounds good," Chuck Jamm admitted.
Mr. Nice Guy cleared his throat. "Any ordained ministers on your
Chuck Jamm shifted uneasily in his chair. "Only five of my twelve
salespeople are actually ordained ministers. Of the seven others, three
have not yet graduated from divinity school, two are rabbis, and one is
"That's only six. What about the other guy?"
"Well, he does pray a lot--especially around the end of the month."
Mr. Nice Guy nodded confidently. "With material like this, I can
put together a campaign guaranteed to build heavy floor traffic for "In
"Great," Chuck Jamm exclaimed. "And we want our advertising to
really stand out!"
"Uh-oh!" Mr. Nice Guy thought to himself. He remembered his first
car dealer account. The owner had asked him to create advertising that
would generate floor traffic and "stand out."
Mr. Nice Guy had done just that with a campaign he called "Satisfy The
Senses." The newspaper ads were graphically striking but conservative in
content. The radio spots, however, featured a customer who actually
"tasted" the cars and proclaimed them "All in good taste," then there
was a quick, low voiced disclaimer saying "Automobiles are not
edible--don't try this at home."
The campaign was a big success. Floor traffic went up immediately.
Sales went up. People called on the telephone just to say how much they
liked the commercial.
But on the third day of the campaign the owner called Mr. Nice Guy
into his office and said he wanted to kill the campaign right away.
Mr. Nice Guy was perplexed. Everything was going great. At that
moment the showroom was full of buyers. He pointed out the obvious
success to the owner.
"I don't care," the owner growled. I don't like the campaign.
Nobody else on the street is doing anything like this." He rustled up
the newspaper ads of his competition. All the ads were the same old
usual ho-hum phrases. The car dealer called out the themes with emotion
in his voice: "Midnight Madness. Below Invoice Close-Out. Factory
Authorized Savings!" He put the paper down. "Our advertising is too
different," he complained. "How can I face the other dealers. They're
making fun of my advertising!"
"But the results..." Mr. Nice Guy protested.
"I don't care about results!" the dealer snapped. "Tone down our
advertising! Here--why don't you do something like this?" He indicated
an ad that said, "$2,000 for your trade! Push it in!"
So Mr. Nice Guy reluctantly used headline campaigns suggested by
the dealer, resulting in marvels such as "Factory Orders Us To Sell Our
Cars!" "We're Overstocked Because We're Dummies!" and, best of all,
Sales returned to a dull normal (a percent or two above the year
before) and Mr. Nice Guy might have kept the account, but the dealer's
favorite nephew started an ad agency and, naturally, the dealer handed
him the account.
At their least meeting, the
dealer proudly showed to Mr. Nice Guy the newspaper ad that inaugurated
the nephew's new advertising strategy: "We gots too many cars."
"The kid's a genius!" the dealer beamed.
Mr. Nice Guy nodded solemnly.
After saying good bye and shaking hands with Chuck Jamm, Mr. Nice
Guy stepped out into the blazing sunlight. He saw two clowns sitting on
the curb, chatting amiably over hot dogs.
(To be continued)
A Paper Movie
The Christmas Story
Mr. Nice Guy's Nice Luck
Mr. Nice Guy's
Mr. Nice Guy's