One of the highlights from last week’s Oscars broadcast was the revival of the classic Grey Poupon campaign. Anybody who alive in the 1980s remembers the basic gist: snooty rich guy riding in his Rolls pulls up along another snooty rich guy in his Rolls. Rich Guy A utters the timeless line “Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?” Rich Guy B responds “But of course!” and hands the jar out the window.
The reboot of the campaign starts off the same way, but when Guy A drives off with the mustard jar, Guy B gives chase and they have a chase scene interlaced with several symbols of the uber-wealthy.
It is an absolutely brilliant ad – taking a classic, well-known template and flipping it on its head for outstanding dramatic and comedic effect. I heard from several people who said it was the highlight of Oscar Night. Having dissected the ads in the last two Super Bowls, I can tell you that this ad would have easily been among the best in either of those games.
And frankly, the brilliance of this ad bums me out.
You see, I recently learned that one of the key people behind this Grey Poupon ad is a classmate of mine from the University of Nebraska. We were both advertising majors and had several classes together. And yes, she was pretty good back then. But…(and maybe this is just my pride and ego talking) but I remember thinking that I was just as good as she was – if not a touch better.
But 15 years later, she’s making amazing commercials in L.A., and my day job is pretty far removed from advertising. Her work is being seen by 40 million people during the Oscars. On Oscar Sunday, this blog was viewed by fewer than 40 people. (Much fewer, I might add). When she worked on those Christmas Vacation spoof ads for Old Navy, she worked with Chevy Chase. I once worked with somebody who reminded me of Cousin Eddie.
So yeah, I’m jealous. And that is something that I never thought I would publicly admit (even if my low readership means that secret will be pretty safe). And I should also be clear about my fellow Husker who is creating these brilliant ads: I always thought she was talented, and I truly liked her as a person. I am very happy for her well-deserved (and I’m sure, hard-earned) success. It could not happen to a nicer, sweeter person.
But that doesn’t erase that pang of jealousy I feel when I read an article talking about how brilliant the ad was, or think that somebody I considered an equal is doing ads for the second biggest night on TV. That would be pretty cool.
This envy cause me to look back and evaluate some of the choices I’ve made (pursue unpaid internships or work retail job that pays the bills and bar tab) as well as the lessons I’ve learned (prospective employers care more about your experience than your stellar GPA).
The feelings of jealousy are definitely subsided by my wife (whom I never would have met if not for the decidedly non-advertising job I took out of college) and our beautiful children. And the rational part of me knows that I would have been very hesitant to move to Chicago or Los Angeles to pursue an ad career – away from family, friends, my Huskers. Heck, I would not have done it when I was 23 and single and I definitely wouldn’t do it now.
This all leads to the million dollar “what if” question: If I could go back and do it all over again, would I do things differently, knowing that it could lead to me being the one writing the awesome ad?
My answer is an emphatic “no”. I have things pretty damn good in my life, and I know a lot of the blessings and positive outcomes that have occurred for me.
That said, if anybody would like a freelance copywriter I am available. I may not have the amazing portfolio that my fellow Nebraska alum does, but I know in my heart I can produce the same quality of work – and I’ll guarantee my rates are much lower.