By Richard Kirshenbaum
Many years ago, after working for the legendary adman Donny Deutsch, I went into business with my partner Jon and we wanted to start our own agency. One weekend I picked up a copy of Jerry Della Femina’s now-iconic book “From the Guys Who Brought You Pearl Harbor” and something in the book caught my eye!

At the end of one of the chapters Jerry wrote that when he was going INTO business he almost went OUT of business, and as a last resort decided to throw a party. The result: he picked up a few clients and not only stayed in business, but became an ad legend!

Once our small agency had enough produced work to display, we actually “bartered” a party with one of our restaurant clients and threw a “first annual KBP” party and try to do a “Jerry.”

I remember sitting and thinking of well-known and important people to invite to the party that I did not know. I remember thinking “why not invite them?” Even if they don’t come they might remember our name.”We also invited reporters and photographers and put big blow-ups of our ad agencies work around the restaurant so people could get a real feel for our work.

After much fretting about who was coming and packing the place with friends and relatives (an empty party is for losers) the night of the party arrived and I nervously paced the restaurant hoping some of our guests on our wish list would show up.

Two hours later, the party was packed and the people kept coming.
Word had leaked out that this new, hip agency was offering free food and booze (yay barter) and the modeling agency I invited had their gorgeous girls show up in hopes of landing a contract.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw an industry reporter chatting with a supermodel, the Chief Marketing Officer of a well-known brand scarfing down a mini pizza and industry powerhouses Donny Deutsch and Jerry Della Femina popped by to both support and anoint us (it always pays to have great mentor).

The party generated so much buzz and goodwill I had people calling me later that week for jobs (we had none), financial planners calling (who were disappointed we had no money) and then viola! a new client who had read about our party and heard he missed a great one called. Could he come in to talk to us about a small account? Of course!!!

The man Andy Kozin had a small suit company St. Laurie Suits and wanted a great ad campaign and would also offer to pay us partially in suits! Since we had none, we were very excited by the prospect of fine tailoring, not to mention a new account.

Our ad featuring an elegantly dressed Cary Grant type with the headline “Dress British, Think Yiddish” for St. Laurie went on to get a lot of attention and a write up on NY magazine which brought us in two more clients and the new business never stopped.

While some may think a party is frivolous or expensive or not worth the energy, my advice to paraphrase Jerry is “when in doubt, throw a party” and this year we celebrated our 20th anniversary with our 300 employees and friends and relatives (because an empty party is still for losers) and all the people I invited my first year showed up.
But I still sent an invitation to Prince Charles and Camilla, because you never know...

Questions? Comments?