I actually heard those exact words uttered in a meeting about Budweiser superbowl advertising. It was my first Bud superbowl meeting. Not my last. I had just been re-hired by the agency to work on beer again. My first stint two years earlier had been working on Bud Light. But I preferred Bud. So I considered working on Budweiser a step up!
So I walk into a tense, packed conference room in a Chicago skyscraper a few minutes late. Just as the Group Creative Director says, rubbing his brow and in an exhausted tone said “ ’…Marlon Brando’s Monkey’ is dead. That’s the good news… ”. And nobody in the room even reacts to this absurd news. They just nod silently.
I burst out laughing. “Uh, what the f**k does that mean?” I exclaimed. He explained that our co-agency on the Budweiser account, fellow Omni-Comrades Goodby Silverstein, had already sold a superbowl idea that involved a chimp voiced by Marlon Brando. The chimp wouldn’t come out of its movie star trailer until it got a Bud. And the name on the door of the star trailer read “Marlon Brando’s Monkey” (Pretty funny!) And that Goodby had even gotten Marlon Brando to agree to do the voiceover of the chimp. But that the brewery didn’t want to pay Marlon’s asking price ( a million bucks) and so they had killed that idea.
I laughed my ass off at this. That this craziness was just yet another meeting to them was hilarious to me. I was fresh to all this again. I’d had a rest. They were jaded.
There and then I knew I had the title of my autobiography.
MARLON BRANDO’S MONKEY IS DEAD