Letter From Vienna
What goes around comes around.
The story of fake and counterfeit drugs being shipped all over Southeast Asia that are responsible for the deaths of 200,000 or more people annually was foreshadowed by the 1949 thriller, The Third Man, set in post-World War II Vienna.
Directed by Carol Reed and starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, The Third Man was deemed the finest British film ever made by the British Film Institute in 2000, and is the only British film in the American Film Institute’s 1996 list of greatest films of all time. It ranks #57.
We spent four days in Vienna in 2005, just before Christmas. I had two items on my agenda: chocolate and The Third Man.
After 45 years in the business, I tend to view the world through the prism of direct marketing.
In the darkness of the late afternoon of the first day, it was cold and rainy when we spied a brightly-lit confectionery and coffee shop called AIDA. In direct marketing 101, AIDA is the acronym for the steps needed to get a response: Attention—Interest—Desire—Action. We got in out of the cold and had the ultimate cup of hot chocolate—dark, bitter-sweet, strong and with a huge dollop of real whipped cream floating in it.
But it was my pursuit of The Third Man—retracing the steps of Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten—that resulted in an epiphany about the sad state of direct marketing.
The Hotel Sacher
This blinding flash of insight about direct marketing did not hit me at the Hotel Sacher.
After the War, Vienna was a dreary, down-at-the-heels city that had been bombed to hell and was being run by the Four Powers.
A survivor was the Sacher founded in 1876. It was here that Holley Martins—an American writer of Westerns played by Joseph Cotten—stayed at the invitation of his old friend, Harry Lime. Famous for the Sacher Torte (originally created in 1830 for Emperor Franz Josef), the Sacher Hotel is today restored to 19th century perfection and elegance. In the Red Bar, with its plush, red banquettes, red velvet drapes and magnificent chandeliers and paintings, we had one of the best lunches of our lives.