The b direct logo Hive

Science Fiction Double Feature


It's Halloween, the holiday of ghosts and ghouls and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. It's the only holiday designed to scare people (unless you've been in Times Square on New Year's Eve, of course).

But, there are plenty of scares available the other 364 days of the year — if you work with or for an ad agency. In fact, the next time they decide to reboot the saga of Michael Myers (see the Queen B's recent review here:, maybe they should look at our industry for terrifying new plots.

Here are half a dozen examples:


The Blob

An enterprising young marketer is tasked with positioning and promoting an exciting new product — only to realize that the product is virtually impossible to describe in human language. She has recurring nightmares about the words "scalable," "cloud,""enterprise," and "legacy systems."


The Rookie Horror Show

A brave agency team tries to execute a rush job, being managed by a 23-year-old MBA. He's so young and inexperienced, he doesn't even know what he doesn't know. Chiling dialogue includes: "What do you mean the comps are in Greek? Why are they in Greek? This campaign is for the U.S."


The Mystery of the Disappearing Design

A stalwart young Art Director designs a beautiful sales kit and circulates it for review. By the time the Creative Director, the Account Executive, the Client, her Boss, and her Boss's Boss are finished "tweaking," the sales kit is approved. Horror strikes the heart of the Art Director when he realizes that his design has morphed into ... a plain white folder!


Attack of the Clones

A sequel to The Blob, this time, the same earnest marketer is asked to promote another exciting new product, only to realize that its features, benefits and advantages are EXACTLY the same as every other product they offer ... as well as every product every other competitor offers!


Honey, I Shrunk the Budget

A team of eager agency creatives is hard at work on a mammoth project for their favorite client. Suddenly, in the dead of night, a phone rings. It's the client who's sorry to tell them that the budget has been shrunk by 75%. But, they still need to deliver 100% of the project. "No problem," he tells them, "Riiiiiiiiight?"


Night of the Living Art Department

The deadline's tight, the printer's waiting, a single typo or inaccurate prodution spec could end the world (or at least, an important and lucrative agency-client relationship). Can a team of zombies finish the job on time? "Oh, the humanity! The humanity!"


Of course, in real life, marketing project mightmares aren't quite as entertaining ... but, they can be every bit as dramatic. For example:

• Typos that go to press (on a four-million-piece mailing)

• Variable fields that are left <NAME GOES HERE>

• Bad phone numbers

• Bad URLs

• Last-minute changes from people who weren't even involved in the first place

• "Creative by committee"

• Reviewers who don't know what they want "I'll know it when I see it"

• Reviewers who only know what they don't want

• Teams who can't agree on program objectives, but expect the creative to somehow please everybody

• Match mailings that ... well ... don't match

• Art Directors who accidentally forget to tell you that the photos they chose cost $1,500 each

• Copywriters who throw a Halloween-sized hissy fit whenever an edit is requested

• A vendor who promises a "two-day turnaround," but then says, "Two days? Oh, I meant two weeks. My bad"

• Postage checks that never arrive

And, finally, the greatest horror of all them all ...

• Campaigns that don't pull results

Now, that's something we all have nightmares about.

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