Image for post
Image for post
Image: Marc Smith

LEAKED: Memo From Brand To Ad Agency

Hassan S. Ali
Sep 24, 2015 · 3 min read

Sent anonymously to Hassan S. Ali

To: [Chief Creative Officer of major Chicago advertising agency]
From: [Chief Marketing Officer for consumer packaged goods brand]
Date: 9/23/2015


Hi [redacted],

I wanted to put something on your agency’s radar.

Image for post
Image for post
The so-called “Pizza Rat”

I overheard a few of my interns talking about something called “Pizza Rat” just now. Intrigued, I asked them more about it, and apparently, all the Millennials on social media are sharing footage of a rat carrying a slice of pizza down some subway stairs.

Do you remember the conversation we had after the viral “Harlem Shake” in 2013? And then again when Millennials were sharing video of a goat screaming the chorus to Taylor Swift’s “Trouble”?

I guess my question is: If a pizza-eating rodent can go viral, WHY CAN’T OUR BRAND GO VIRAL, TOO?

Now you don’t know this, but I brought in an independent consultant to take a look at our situation. After four months of in-depth analysis, they found that the commercials you’ve made for us have a mere 5,000 views on Youtube, and we only have 540 Twitter followers, many of whom are just spambots with profile photos of scantily clad Eastern European women.

So, I ask again: Why aren’t we viral? Why isn’t our #MakeMorningsGreatAgainWithThePowerOfWholeGrains hashtag trending with Millennials on Twitter? Why isn’t my daughter Snappchatting (sp?) about us to all her friends? Why aren’t they talking about us on The Today Show? Why isn’t Jimmy Kimmel or Ellen talking about us? For the amount we pay your agency, I expect to see Ellen dancing to our ads in front of a cheering audience, and nothing less.

Can we make a video with pigeons? They seem funny. A pigeon eating a bowl of [brand’s product name]? Or perhaps a puppy “talking” about how energized he feels in the morning after a hearty spoonful of [product]? Just some thought-starters, but you get the idea. Or maybe The Rockettes doing The Nae Nae dance after eating a bowl of [product]?

Image for post
Image for post
Artist rendering of “Pizza Rat.” Source: Chris Piascik

I’m serious about this. Check your calendar invite, I’m setting up an all-day offsite to discuss how we can produce work like Pizza Rat, Milkshake Squirrel, and Man Argues With Spitting Goat. This kind of snackable content has large engagement amongst our target, and we need to do whatever we can, with however many millions it costs to produce such videos.

Frankly, my patience is running thin. I’ve got [CMO of competitor brand] sending me all sorts of taunting text messages and I need a victory here to shove it in his goatee’d face.

Additionally, I need this to win back [wife] Karen’s respect. The counseling isn’t going as well as I’d hoped, and she’s talking about moving in with her sister now and it’s all just very frustrating. So yes, THIS IS PERSONAL!

In six months, if Drake (a popular Canadian rapper) is not tweeting about how amazing our brand is, and preferably devoting an entire song to the brand, I’m sorry, but then we’ll just have to go our separate ways.

It’s a big challenge, yes, but one I’m sure you and your team can take on.

Talk soon,


If you appreciate the professional risks I took to secure this confidential (and, to be clear, very fake) memo, please like and share this post using the buttons below.

For more, follow me on Twitter. Hugs!

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store