Mar 6, 2008

What if the client were YOU?

As creative professionals, it’s our right to bitch and moan about clients and their inane ways. And hey, why not? As workers who’ve historically made up the lowest possible tier in the marketing caste system, it’s our job to trash The Man.
Experience (and this beloved Blog) has taught us that clients are overpaid, undereducated, chicken-shit assholes who get off on stepping all over us creative hippy types. Of course, they say that no one understands them, that we can’t imagine the pressure they’re under, the responsibility. From a client’s point-of-view, how can a lowly creative miss the connection between selling more phones and ending world poverty? Plus, clients foot the bill, so that gives them the right to do whatever they want, no matter how stupid, right?

Ok, so let’s step into their shoes: What would you do different if you were a client and “the weight of the world” fell on your shoulders? Would you consider it reasonable to give creatives three months to come up with a slogan? Would you really spend $500,000 on a 30ss ad that will run in a tiny market for less than three months? Would you see your advertising agency as a specialist and a consultant, or as hired help that are paid to merely follow your instructions? Would you not call the agency at 6:10 p.m. asking for revisions for something that’s due the next day? What would you do to be a good client?

Before you answer that, consider this: One of my worst clients today used to be my partner in crime the advertising game many years ago. She was an AE who quickly rose through the ranks to become a high-powered VP of Client Services (a fancy term for a highly paid regular AE). She and I used to complain about how fucked up clients are and her hatred for client antics was exceptionally sharp. Well, she now owns a business and, as a client, she is everything that she hated about clients. Her explanation: “You just don’t understand, it’s different on this side.”


Jeff said...

It never goes well when an agency person goes client side. I have been through that situation with people I worked with many times. And the first time our team had great hope, thinking we now have one of our own on the inside. But instead all that happens is that ex-agency person just knows how to work the system. They know why bust their own ass and miss that long lunch and manicure when they know they can get the creatives the answers they need at the end of the day and they will have to stay late to get the work done.

joker said...

If I ever happened to be the client what would I do? Hmmmm ok from what I've written, here are 10 things I would do and I promise that if I ever get client side, I'll do the shit I say I will and not do the type I don't.

1. If I have things to revise in an ad, I will get them all in one shot and unless it's something do or die, everything else slides. Word changes, layout changes, etc. Everything will be in one batch and I wouldn't filter things so you can start with these changes. If I end up working at a place where that is the norm, trust me, I'll be interviewing elsewhere. I'm quite tolerant with recommendations and if you show belief rather than caprice, you have my vote.

2. I won't splurge and I won't be stingy. "Define that joker". That means that if I have my way, I'll make less ads and try to shoot every picture rather than stock it. In the end, the price of a shoot is fair for what I want in the end which is an ad that will break through the clutter and be exactly as I was sold the concept.

3. Suggestions will be suggestions, requests will be requests, orders will be rare and far in between. If I'm paying people do the advertising, I don't want to waste time thinking headlines and shit. I'm fucking doing enough of that by now and if I get to be on the other side of the table, I'm not going to impose something because in the end I truly believe that as long as the ad comes out, you have 65% of the battle won. Only something atrocious needs to be 86'd

4. Changes will not consistently come at the end of the day. I don't say this to sound high and mighty or like a typical creative. I say this because it is embedded in my moral fiber to not be such a shit stain and that not only will this win you hatred, but will tempt the fates to have a typo or a mistake in the ad.

5. I will ask for creativity and demand it based in strategy. I'm glad you can win an award but if the sole beneficiary is the ad agency, it's my fault for not demanding more for my company.

6. Briefs will not be copy pasted. There will be bulleted mandatories of things that have to exist within the ad. That's so you have a guideline and so we can make sure you include certain things while still playing the creative bit. I will also ask for specific pieces and leave a space for random recommendations.

7. If we did well, numbers went up, or some positive outcome came from the advertising efforts, you would get a personal visit or at least we will meet for lunch. I think too many clients are too distant from the agency and though it's a job, I'd rather show appreciation even if they think me a scumfuck.

8. Three concepts per campaign is the most I'm going to accept. Keep the safe alternative and show me aggresive approaches. At the very least, I'd give an agency one chance to see if they succeed or if they fuck up before trying things my way.

9. I would try and have solid media placement while trying to save money for a specific moment where I choose to splurge.

10. If there is a problem with the creative, I'd ask for a one on one meeting with the creatives and then with the exec to re-brief if necessary. These would be separate because if there's a problem, I don't need someone insisting to sell me something I have a massive problem with and if that happens, trust me the ad is shit. I want to talk to the people responsible for the work so we can have a clear understanding and leave out any chance for misunderstandings and so they see I give a fuck who does my ads and that we have a clear path of communication.

Is this wishful thinking? Who knows? Are these my only would be client moves? Of course not, I'm an asshole and there's probably some shit I'd pull that would garner me hate but I'd try and balance it out.

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