“Trust Me” evokes haunting nostalgia for this Chicago ad man.
February 10, 2009
Last night’s episode of “Trust Me” was ever so much fun for this copywriter. Reasons why:
1) Effen Vodka. It permeates the show. Ads for it hang from the walls, some still in rough layout. But then there’s the huge, framed poster glowing in the agency’s center hallway. “Great Effen Taste” reads the headline. Good copy. Simple. Fun. I should know. My guys wrote it! Last summer Bernie Gomez, the Creative Director for the campaign, applied the red hue per TNT’s request so it would show better on camera. Better than that, they call Effen by name. Eric McCormack’s character literally says he has an “effen Effen” meeting. I know it sounds silly –it is- but a lot wrangling took place between the real agency (Euro RSCG) and the TV agency (RGM) to get this stuff on the show. And let’s not forget the client. Our friends at Barton Brands had to grant us permission. I’m assuming they are now happy, as it costs them nothing for countless exposures on national television. You try paying an Emmy-award winning actor to say your products name. Three times, I might add. Six figures, if he’ll do it at all.
2) Sweet Home Chicago. While much of “Trust Me” is shot in Hollywood, the soul of our city is redolent. From the mention of Mia Francesca (how many nights we over-consumed calamari and vodka there!) to the final scene at the Winnetka train station, I could tell the creator’s knew their way around the Second City. If the show goes another season (fingers crossed), I’m told more scenes will be shot here. Maybe I can even get them over to my place!
3) Leo Burnett. My “alma mater” featured heavily in last night’s episode. When Mason is beseeched by his petulant copywriter to hire a superstar from Burnett, he tells her “we can’t afford him.” The gag (referring to a more magnanimous Burnett than present) is repeated several times. Art imitates life when the unseen Burnetter takes a job at Crispin Porter in Miami. A more accurate telling would have the man going to CP&B’s swank new Boulder office but who’s quibbling?
4) The mirror held up to my life. Watching “Trust Me” is a little like dating an ex girlfriend. I’m nervous. I’m interested. And I want things to go better than I’d ever remembered. (I’m married but you get my point) The truth is I felt like I was in almost every scene, just off camera. When the Creative Director tells his partner “always hire creative people who are better than you because you’ll end up getting credit for their work anyway,” I instantly recalled my father telling me the same thing. I’m sure I once gave this wise advice to the creators of the show. And even if I didn’t, it felt like I did.
And herein lies the key: the show feels like my life. I never identified with a TV program before, even those I liked. Being a narcissist by trade, I will be back for the next episode. Whether America takes to “Trust Me” is a matter for Nielsen to decide. I sure as hell hope so. I want to see how I turn out.