Reply All -- Oh No

How an adman turned an embarrassing email blunder into Super Bowl-size success.
3:00 | 11/09/12

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Reply All -- Oh No
You've had that feeling before. You know you have. That sinking feeling in your stomach when you realize you've just made a disastrous e-mail blunder like spending your entire office a nasty note meant for your ex-boyfriend. It can happen in a nanosecond. The same amount of time it could take for your career to end when you hit the wrong key at the wrg people. All of them. ♪ Reporter: This tire commercial that ran during the super bowl in 2010 probably made you smile, but it made ad man bill cochran's career. It was huge. To have something on the biggest stage for advertising, it meant the world to me. I could try to be cool about it, but I wasn't. I completely lost my mind. Reporter: The spot was called "a whale of a tale." And now cochran has one of his own to tell. It began late in 2010, when bill and his colleagues were asked to dream up another super bowl ad. Bill's boss sent out a mass e-mail to 100 or so creatives, spelling out teams that would compete to come up with that one killer idea like these ads. On something as juicy as a super bowl spot, it gets a little more cut throat around here. I just saw that list and I was like, "okay, we gotta get fired up." Reporter: This ex-athlete got fired up by putting others down. Writing to his creative partner, cochran savaged many of their rivals for the gig. His office colleagues, all in ruthless, r-rated language. There are words you might say in a locker room about another team, and there are words you might say at a press conference. I used locker room words in this e-mail. Reporter: What kind of words are we talking about? I -- I think I said, "i'm sick of their , so to speak. Reporter: Kick their ass? Oh, yeah. That sounds like something i would say. This wasn't the most thought-out e-mail I've ever written in my life. Reporter: When you clicked it -- mm-hmm. Reporter: -- Did you have any idea that you had done something wrong? No idea at all. I felt great. Reporter: That feeling lasted until his colleague wendy mayes called to tell him -- I said, "oh, god, bill, you sent that to all! You replied to all!" Within moments, there was sort of you could hear some cackles and prairie dogs and people popping up. Reporter: Two buttons, so had hit "reply all." I just felt like the blood just drifted completely -- just came out of my body. Is there something I can do? Is there a way I can? Can I recall this e-mail? Can I get it back? Reporter: Um, no, actually. There was sort of this look between the creatives like -- and then other e-mails started to show up, bing, bing, bing. A lot of people started replying to all back to his ply all, saying "you're an idiot." The most morable and the most succinct was just a one-rd e-mail that just said, "moron." I did another reply all that said something to the effect of, oops. Reporter: You know, in th history of mishas tended to not be a very useful word. Cochran was thinking about other words like "buh-bye." And I have just undone what i think is a perfectly good career in one blink. Reporter: He'd have company like this scene in the "newsroom" when a producer sends an iimate e-mail to her boss, and hits "reply-all." What just happened? I got a staff e-mail from you. Me, too. I sent the e-mail to sloan. I mean will. Aah! eporter: OR THE CORNELL Lovers, whose intimate e-mails about their extramarital fling describing spanking, licking and tickling, were read by their lleagues. The intern at the top gal firm who accidently shared with bigwigs that he was doing "jack at work. The $300,000 a year uk exec, sacked when he publicly disparaged a job-seeker for "being too stupid to get a job." Cochran figured he'd be a job-seeker himself in a few hours. I'm gonna get fired for this. I'm gonna lose my job, I'm gonna have to move, I'm gonna have to start over. I have undone this, all of this, in one stupid clk. I think he said something to the effect of "it's been nice knowing you, guys. I'm going to go ahead and pack up my cubicle now." Reporter: Now at some places, a guy who did something like that would've been fired. No, not here. I just don't think anybody comes running to me d says, you should know about the dumb thing that bill cochran did. That just never happens here. Reporter: Instead, cochran started doing a smart thing -- apologizing. It starts with "i'm sorry," and then there's several other "i'm sorrys" throughout, and then it probly ends with a sorry. Reporter: And he came up with a new concept for that year's super bowl spot -- oh, no. Rod, you hit "reply all." Aaagh. Aaagh! Reporter: A spot called "reply all" and to his amazement -- you know, I was wrong. You just sent this e-mail to me. Could you imagine? Reporter: -- The client bought it, and it appeared on the super bowl earlier last year. I mean, lemons into lemonade, my gosh. Yeah. Reporter: Yet even amid this happy ending, bill cochran has learned his lesson. When do you say what's really on your mind? Just in person. Next, ever feel like doing

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"id":17684846,"title":"Reply All -- Oh No","duration":"3:00","description":"How an adman turned an embarrassing email blunder into Super Bowl-size success.","url":"/2020/video/reply--17684846","section":"2020","mediaType":"default"}