Going The Extra Mile… Or 100 Miles.

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In my three-part series, “Be Bold. Be Memorable. Be Different.” published in Corporate Logo magazine earlier this year, the one that struck a chord and got the most feedback from readers was the June 2007 epic entitled, “Go the Extra Mile … Even if it’s 100 Miles.” So many of you related to the challenge of solving a seemingly impossible task for a client and had similar stories of your own.
With the Halloween season upon us, another tale of terror springs to mind in this go-the-extra-mile vein that took place on Halloween eve about 10 years ago.
It is Oct. 30, the afternoon before Halloween. It’s 4 p.m. The phone rings. Foolishly, I answer it. On the other end is a hysterical salesperson in my Culver City office. Her client, the Los Angeles Times, didn’t receive the order for 150 rubber animal masks they had placed with us for a Halloween breakfast the next morning. A Halloween breakfast for 150 orphans at 8 a.m. in downtown Los Angeles.
Without thinking – which is how I normally operate – I grab my cell phone and my car keys, and I run for the back door. As I speed out of the parking lot, I’m on the phone, setting up a network of three assistants in two offices calling every costume company, make-up store, department store, drug store and 99-cent store we can identify. I need 150 Halloween masks or the orphan party will be ruined and a high-profile customer will be lost!
Orphans! Why did it have to be orphans?
I have 16 hours. Bear in mind, the absolute last place you want to be on Oct. 30 is a costume shop. They are mobbed with procrastinators buying costumes for the next day, especially here in Los Angeles where we live to party in spandex and fangs.
I head for Hollywood, where there are more costume shops per square block than there are Starbucks. Guided by my trusty assistants, I zero in on the various stores in and around Tinseltown, but nobody has 150 children’s masks; it is too late in the season. I expand my search into the San Fernando Valley and Burbank as the sun sets. As I’m considering converging upon the dreaded Pacoima, Calif., one of my assistants, still manning the phones after 9 p.m., strikes pay dirt! Transylvanian pay dirt!
A party store in Sunland, Calif., might have some old children’s masks up in their attic. I’m instructed to drive there, ignore the line, go to the front door and tell the security guard that “Mike sent me.” I tear off to the east and arrive in Sunland just before 10 p.m. There is a line to get into the party store that wraps around the building. I park two blocks away and walk up to a Frankenstein-sized security guard (who is packing heat) and tell him that Mike sent me. I am admitted to the packed store as outside people are cursing me for bypassing the line and gaining entry. Shocking aspersions are cast upon my innocent mother.
Mike, the assistant manager, takes me up a rickety ladder to a back corner of a dusty attic, and there, in the corner, is what I have been seeking for six hours.
A box of old Ben Cooper style children’s masks from the past. Tweety Bird, Pac-Man, Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, some kind of a frog dealie… a whole box of them. Mike figures there are at least 150, maybe 200 old masks in there. He’s willing to sell them to me for 50 bucks. I pay the man and leave quickly, before the mob turns on me. I call my formerly-hysterical salesperson, who meets me at my house at midnight to pick up the masks and drive them to the Times building in downtown Los Angeles. They are open all night, just like the costume shops. The masks are delivered by 2 a.m. and the orphans’ party is a big success. No one there knew who Pac Man was, but that’s beside the point.
The point being, never stop to dwell on how impossible your task may be. Be Bold … Spring into action, and just get it done! We saved the account, impressed the client and made 150 orphans smile. Except the one who got the frog mask. Seriously, who wants to be a frog for Halloween? Pirate. Vampire. Amphibian? It’s just wrong.
This article was written by Rick Greene for Corporate Logo Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Rick Greene, MAS, is the Western region vice president for HALO/Lee Wayne Corp. and the author of the just-published comic fantasy novel “‘Shroom!” available at www.amazon.com and most online book retailers. Greene’s previous articles ran in the April, June and July 2007 issues.

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