In 2005 I spent an hour having tea with Thierry Henry. As an Arsenal supporter, I found this to be a very pleasant experience.
Pepsi were about to make an ad with Thierry and they had organised an opportunity for the creatives to ask him questions so that they could get some real insight into how best to portray him. Unfortunately, the creatives in question supported West Ham and Manchester United, so they weren’t overly keen to spend an hour with Monsieur Henry (remember, this was a time when Arsenal had gone through an entire season unbeaten, something which may not have endeared its players to the fans of of other teams. I understand how they felt; I would sooner lean my face into a chainsaw than spend an hour with John Terry or Wayne Rooney). So the word went out (I kid you not): who would like to spend an hour having tea with Thierry Henry in a five-star hotel?
Eventually, I got wind of this and generously offered my precious time to acquire the critical information. In order to make sure I didn’t miss anything important I called my friend, a producer at the agency and season ticket holder at Arsenal, and asked if he’d like to join us. Incredibly, he was quite keen.
So we all had a lovely chat and I later mused on the odd days that sometimes occur in advertising agencies.
In marked contrast is this note I once received:
I won’t say who sent it, but I will reveal that the company that worried so much about including a ‘black man’ in their ad no longer exists.
Perhaps that’s a good thing.