Blast from the past….the days when ad folk had fun.
It was one of those Friday evenings at the Cheers pub in Bukit Damansara. The time when it was still a dingy old-style tavern run by a couple (I believe they were the Wongs) whose husband’s main passions were fishing, drinking and gambling on anything under the sun.
My pals from the industry had just finished one of our infamous KL Club lunches at a Banana Leaf joint in PJ. And as it was the practice then, we’d shamelessly write-off the rest of the day drinking at the nearest watering hole. Or shall I say, indulging in some good fellowship.
Incidentally, the KL Club was an ad-hoc social club of 69 (don’t ask me why 69) free-wheeling ad industry friends whose only pre-requisite for membership was a blatant disregard for pompousness plus a sudden urge to merge and consume copious amounts of alcohol.
Our self-proclaimed Lifetime Chairman was Eddie Tong (the late), who by virtue of his seniority did not have to pay any bill during our congregations. Sifu, as our Chairman was affectionately called, taught us how to ‘die a little’ every day.
Anyway, back to my story.
It was way after lunch, and we had already finished a couple of bottles of Scotch (singe malt was unheard of in those days); our group had also grown to about 50 people. A motley crew of MDs, CDs (there were no ECDs or CCOs in those days), film editors, PR folk, ad wannabes and some curious onlookers who thought advertising was about hard work and pain (little did they know they were right).
My good friend Jude Mohan (he used to have two As in his name) who ran an ad agency for the Berjaya Group decided to call it a day around 6pm. He left with a few of his groupies for a last drink at a pub nearer his home (such establishments were termed the ‘last stops before the border’).
But little did I know that he had paid the entire bill for all of us before leaving.
Shortly after, we also decided to leave. I asked the Wongs for the bill which came up to a little over RM400. KL Club members all dutifully chipped in (minus our suitably inebriated Lifetime Chairman) to settle the damage and were on our way.
It was only after a few days, as I was chatting with Jude Mohan about a pitch he had won, that I realised we had been double-billed for our drinks at Cheers. We were all shocked!
After a flash KL Club EGM on the matter (a bitch session that lasted all of 40 seconds), I decided to confront the Wongs that same evening, only to be told that no such thing happened.
Unfortunately, we had not kept our receipts and that was the end of that.
The Wongs had a practiced way of reacting to customer complaints.
One evening, a dear friend of ours, Bob Seymour who ran Bozell Advertising, found a dead cockroach in his friend’s beehoon. He immediately took them to task over this, but they just brushed it off saying he was being petty.
So Bob did what every righteous British gentleman would do: he wrote a Letter of Complaint to the Pub. Fat load of good that did. Because Wong showed me the letter and told everyone Bob was overreacting. “The audacity of Bob to fuss over one dead measly cockroach” tickled him to no end!
Nobody won when the Wongs were in charge. They had mastered the art of making you look like guilty even if your bill had been paid – twice!
This article first appeared in a past issue of ADOI, MARKETING magazine’s predecessor. To check out all old issues, visit issuu.com/.com.my