Trust Me

There’s a witty new drama on TNT that has caught my interest. It’s called Trust Me. It’s about the shifting dynamics of a large advertising agency set in Chicago. It stars Tom Cavanagh as Conner and Eric McCormack as Mason, serving in their respective roles as copywriter and art-director-turned-creative-director. TNT says the show “follows these memorable characters as they try to navigate the waters of interoffice politics, personality conflicts, easily bruised egos, professional jealousies and unreasonable client demands.” And so far, it’s doing these things rather well.

I was totally hooked only minutes into the pilot episode. In one of the initial scenes, Conner steps out of the agency’s elevator double-fisting venti coffees from Starbucks. This brought to mind the copious times I’ve left the Starbucks drive-thru feeling energized simply by the aroma of the two glorious triple venti toffee nut lattes gracing my cup holders. Mmm … toffee nut … my absolute favorite!

It’s more than just the coffee, though. The resemblance to real-world ad agency dynamics and this creative line of work is simply uncanny. Jamie Andrules, the “Mason” in my life, caught a replay of the pilot a few days later at my suggestion, and we had an insightful and humorous discussion about the parallels that can be drawn against our own experiences. For instance, while you can easily find yourself on either side of the tagline debate (love ’em? hate ’em?), ultimately Mason’s right … clients like taglines because consumers remember them, or at least the clever ones that have saturated the market. “Just do it. Think different. Kills bugs dead. When you care enough to send the very best. This Bud’s for you. We try harder. The ultimate driving machine. Uh oh Spaghetti-os.” (Recognize a few of those, do you?)

The creative collaboration that occurs between Mason and Conner feels strikingly similar to my creative partnership with Jamie. Sometimes you have to jot down a hundred taglines to arrive at the one that works. Other times it’s the first one that lands on the tip of your tongue. Sometimes creativity feels forced. Other times it’s pure magic. Somehow, inexplicably, pacing around the room does get the creative juices flowing. But sometimes it’s just not happening, and lying on the couch to clear your head seems like the only logical thing to do at the time. Sometimes an idea sounds so perfect that it’s cemented to your brain and clouding your judgment, even when it’s not that great, like Conner’s “spar-text-icus” theme for a cell phone campaign. And, on occasion, your eleventh-hour effort comes together entirely by accident, and to your amazement, you and the client both love it for all the right reasons.

Jamie and I suspected that this show was created by people who have spent some time in advertising agency trenches. They really nailed it, and in ways only an advertising professional could know. To test the validity of our theory, we conducted a focus group. Just kidding. (Focus groups were used in episode two, and although highly amusing, the methods in play were not entirely ethical.) I did look at TNT’s web site, though, and discovered that Trust Me is the brain child of Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny, former employees of J. Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett Advertising.

You can watch new episodes of Trust Me on Mondays. Check your local listings or TNT.tv, whose tagline, by the way, is “we know drama.” Of course, I trust you already knew that.

One Thought on “Trust Me

  • This show was canceled by TNT after a single season, just 13 episodes, citing low viewership. A shame, really, since I thoroughly enjoyed it. “People sometimes lament there’s so much drama built around doctors and lawyers and police,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president and head of programming for TNT, TBS and TCM in Atlanta, but it may be that the world of advertising is “not as accessible a subject as other subjects on television.”

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