Contact: Patti LaSalle
SMU Public Affairs
(214) 768-7660

 

EXCERPTS FROM LIENER TEMERLIN'S PHILOSOPHY*

From the very beginning of his career, Liener’s strong beliefs have led to a special agency culture that has been the hallmark for the agency and its employees for almost fifty years. Following are some of Liener's quotes that we have taken from various speeches, letters, notes and conversations which we thought might be of interest to all Agency employees.

  • We should all be proud of the business we are in as advertising and all its disciplines are one of the bedrocks of corporate America.
  • Just being legal in decision making is not enough. All your actions must be morally correct, ethical and Kosher (pure). The best path is to avoid the gray areas. Stay in the white. And, of course, stay out of the black. ‘MLEK’ has become the acronym for moral, legal, ethical, and Kosher (pure) as the only way to run our Agency and our lives.
  • Be involved with pro bono activity, personally and corporately. Give back in time and money to those less fortunate. And lead your clients in the same direction.
  • Advertising is one of the quintessential tools of the free enterprise system. With that comes great responsibility. Make certain that the advertising we produce employs finesse and discretion. Even with those guide posts, the creative process is not only unfettered, but much more effective.
  • In my judgement, advertising agencies are uniquely qualified to give their time, talent and resources to worthy causes throughout the country and certainly throughout the communities in which they operate.
  • Our agency should help its clients understand their responsibilities to be good corporate citizens in the communities in which they live and practice their trade.
  • With the creative talent at our disposal, we have an obligation to help eleemosynary institutions deliver their messages on a pro bono basis for the advancement of medicine, the arts and those organizations that help those less fortunate.
  • It is important that we all remember, whether we are a private company or a public one, that it is our duty to the businesses we serve to forever point out that ‘bounty shared, whether it is time, talent or resources, is never bounty diminished.’
  • Advertising agencies are in a unique position to promote media ethics. It is interesting to me that Thomas Jefferson once said, “Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.”
  • When news stories are prejudiced to one side or another, that is not reporting. The media, as well as the public, would be well served by the news media's reporting facts in news stories. The paper's opinions should be reserved for the Editorial pages.
  • I've never liked the notion to describe a lack of prejudice as being ‘color-blind.’ On the face of it, it is absolute nonsense and is in itself, in my opinion, politically incorrect. The statement denies what makes this country so great. That is, it's wonderful and exciting diversity. We can all forever celebrate the multi-color/multi-ethnic/multi-religious society that is America. It’s our cultural differences and our rainbow of colors that have made this country the great nation iT has become, and the more diverse our employee group becomes, the better we and our clients shall all be served.
  • There's no question the agency business is a demanding one. But I've always felt that our families should come first. Nothing is more important. Don't be concerned to explain a family conflict with your client. More than likely they will applaud you for it. Certainly there are those days when you must miss a little league game. When you do have to miss out on a family event, make a note to make it up to your family in spades. They will understand because you have been there when they needed your presence.
  • As preachy as it may sound, the worst thing you can do for yourself, your family or in this business is to smoke. It's no secret about the dangers of smoking. Nothing is more important or more difficult than quitting. I know. I've been to the movie. But it is something that you owe yourself and your family. Additionally, an inability to stop smoking profiles a lack of determination and self discipline; both characteristics that are not only important in the agency business but equally so in setting examples for your own family.
  • In terms of out-of-pocket dollars, to say nothing of our time, the agency gives regularly 5% of pre-tax dollars to charitable organizations. To name a few: National United Way Campaign, Family Gateway, Madison Council of the Library of Congress, The Winston Churchill Foundation, Adopt-a-School, Boy Scouts Circle Ten Council, Dallas Museum of Art, Baylor Hospital, Hearts and Hammers, Southwestern Medical School, American Film Institute, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Dallas Symphony, Vogel Alcove, Southern Methodist University and the East/West Institute, just to name a few. We can all be proud of giving back to the community and the country that have meant so much to us all.
  • The most valuable currency in the world is not the American dollar, or the franc or the yen. It is time. When you are late to a meeting with fellow employees or with clients, family or friends, you are spending their currency. Don't become a time bandit. It is the worst kind of theft.
  • There's an old saying in the agency business that has been around as long as I can remember. That is, 'the day you win a piece of business you are one day closer to losing it'. I've never subscribed to that philosophy. The day you get a piece of business, you're one day closer to learning how to be more effective in servicing the account. Each day gives you the opportunity to learn as much about your clients' business as the business's own executives.
  • Always remember that if advertising can work for your clients it can work against them. Hereto, too many times agencies sell a category rather than the client the agency represents. If the client is not clearly identified, the advertiser with the largest media budget in a category wins the day.
  • Take pride in not only the accounts the agency handles but also in the accounts the agency will not service, i.e., tobacco, liquor, lottery, religious accounts, or accounts of countries that practice bigotry in their governments.
  • Remember that ‘clients want to know how much you care before you tell them how much you know.’
  • In all agency endeavors ‘Promise a lot, but deliver more.’
  • Never ever denigrate a fellow employee or the client for whom we are privileged to work.
  • People talk about overkill being overbearing. I don't believe that holds true in our business. There is no such thing as overkill when it comes to servicing our clients in every discipline in which the agency operates.
  • No agency likes to lose an account. But when it happens, don’t cry over anything that can't cry over you.’ Knuckle down and replace it. Further, it's a pretzel world, and you never know when the account may come back to you.
  • There's no real secret to securing new business opportunities: persistence, consistency, dependability and tenacity will deliver every time. As will a strong belief in the culture and talent of the agency in which we are all privileged to work.
  • When you lose a piece of business, stay in touch with the people who made it possible for you to handle it in the first place. Remember, they were your best friends when you were doing business with them. You want to be as faithful to them when you lose the business as you were when you had the account. The quickest way to be labeled an agency prostitute is to forget those who helped bring you to where you are today. Continue to stay in touch with those people you admired and respected when you had the business. It's a fact of life that the world does change. Hold on to those friendships that you worked for when we had their business.
  • The worst message an agency can deliver to a client or a prospect is an imperious or pompous attitude. Don't think for one minute that they can't smell it. And the day they do, you are on your way to losing the business you have or the client you are trying to get.
  • Be au courant about what is going on in the world and in the industry in which you are spending your life. Every day read the New York Times, your local newspaper, agency trade journals and the national trade journals that relate to the accounts on which you work. Be as much a part of the decades to come as you were of the decades pasT.
  • "Good work is the worst enemy of great work" in the agency business. It's a quick way to accept mediocrity rather than always striving for breakthrough material.
  • Stay in touch with your clients every single day. By phone, by mail, by fax, by e-mail. Especially when their budget is decreased. This is the time your client needs you the most. Over-service your clients in their time of business crisis.
  • Never let a day go by without learning something new about the agency business, your client and the world at large. The more you expand your knowledge the more successful you will become, and the more effective you'll be in servicing your clients.
  • Treat all media reps, suppliers and vendors with the great respect they deserve. These are the people in our business who day in and day out help make this agency look great. They are doing us a favor with the work they deliver on our behalf. It's important we never forget them. Treat them with the same respect we treat our clients.
  • In all agency creative endeavors avoid the 'Picasso Syndrome' where the work has the indelible print of the agency that prepared the work rather than reflecting the image of the client the agency is representing.
  • In all work you do for the client, always put your client on a pedestal.
  • Over the years I've been concerned about the effectiveness of humor in ads. Humor for the sake of humor just doesn't deliver. While there are many exceptions, I'm convinced that more often than not people don't want to buy from clowns.
  • Too many times agencies and advertisers lose sight of the importance of brilliantly executed material. Personally I would rather see a mediocre concept brilliantly executed than a brilliant concept poorly done.
  • In the early days of our growth, we took accounts no one else wanted. All service-driven industries. The clients we handled really began to define the agency. Very often we had to run a different ad on a different day for a different store with different merchandise and different prices, with different media, and never missed a beat. But understanding the complexity of the retail world is what brought us to the position we enjoy today. For we quickly learned the wisdom that for every dollar we spent in building demand we focused as well on building the brand. There's not another agency on the planet that understands the retail service driven business that we are privileged to handle as well as Temerlin McClain.
  • We can take a great deal of pride knowing that our ear is to the ground when it comes to creative work for our clients. It's not that you can’t design a campaign generic to the United States, but it's the fine-tuning on a local basis in creative, media, marketing and public relations that can take a great campaign and turn it into a truly superlative effort.
  • Although we have won our share of advertising awards, I've never held advertising awards in high esteem, except for the “Effie.” Too many times the client with the worst sales performance wins the best of show. In those cases I believe more often than not, creative ads are designed to win awards rather than a winning sales curve.
  • A great measurement of a successful advertising agency, I believe, can best be measured by the longevity of its clients.

* Mark Twain once said: “If you ever see a turtle on a fence post, you know he had a lot of help getting there.” Over the years the above thoughts have been developed from philosophies of my grandparents and parents and from hearing great thinkers and reading great literary works past and present and from exciting newspaper editorials. While many are my own, and many are combinations, I've long since forgotten the appropriate attributions. Nevertheless, all of the above and more are very much a part of the philosophy I have tried to live by over the years and to steer the agency operations along these thoughts as well.

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