Jun 21, 2008

What makes a client suck? Volume 2: The Bank Client

I've had my fair slice of bank advertising in my pupa career and all I can say is that if I can avoid working with a bank, I might just do that. Being bare-balls honest, I've had one very good bank client and one... um... not so special bank client. But though there are discrepancies, there are things that are WAYYYYYYYYY in common between those two and the more I talk to people, the more I realize it's apparently the norm regarding that category.

These are some of the things you might want to get ready for if you ever have to work a bank account.

1.) Get ready to have a good ad pulled if the numbers they want aren't achieved in a two week period. I know you want to leave it another week, but phone calls are down and it has all to do with the headline and not the ridiculous APR. More often than not, bank clients work on a short period program, meaning that nurturing a brand is not something they do particularly spot on. They want quick results a hell of a lot more than a long term plan, or at least was my experience and what I've been able to see.

2.) Their opinions shall never be consistent. If they had their coffee a morning quickie, and a smoke, they might approve anything you send their way and the same truth goes for when they reject a campaign you think just might work.

3.) You will eventually go into two hour meetings to discuss a single word they didn't like in the headline. Patience, this might not be the only meeting you have regarding the word and trust us, we know you have shit to do and other jobs and accounts to attend, but a Bank Client shall NEVER care about that, and if you're working mortgage, get ready for 8 PM revisions.

4.) If there is a brand manual, follow it to the T. If there isn't, ask why there isn't and try to get something official on your side. Trust me, the last thing you want is a bank client who's all over the place and the second thing you don't want is to mess up things that should be obviuos to anyone that works the account.

5.) Speaking of those manuals. Get ready to read brilliant stuff regarding face posturing, smile angles, camera contact, clothing style, photograph composition and an endless array of limitations to do anything creative. There will come a moment when the client will ask for something a hell of a lot more creative and you need your AE to save that email and CC that to your CD, the company CEO, and her immediate supervisor.

6.) Patience is key for any account but Banking is one of those categories that requires extrenme patience because you will meet some of the most dense people ever crafted out of DNA. You'll wonder how they don't get fired, how they have a job, what good they are and one day find out they got canned but you weren't notified. Happend 3 times to me that when I asked for a certain client I was given the "He's no longer with us." funeral parlor answer.

7.) You will most definitely have to cater to the tastes of 3 or more people. This seems simple. It is not because one is the immediate supervisor of both the others. The other two hate each other's guts and there's a fourth man in the mix that can put his hand over all their mouths and tell them what they have to do... you'll also wonder why you can't work directly with this guy but such is bureaucracy.

8.) you will blatantly see the deevolution of your creative campaign. Get ready to see some creative destruction and some nasty ass frankesteins when you decide to present two or more concepts. Clients don't understand that elements in campaigns aren't interchangeable but that won't stop them from treating you like an Igor and cackling maniacally at their final creation.

9.) Odds are severely high that this won't be your portfolio work. How I managed to get so many banking layouts worthy of my lesser part of the portfolio is merely a testament at how lucky I was being at the right place and the right time to be able to be listened to.


RestrictionsApply said...

Let's not forget that bank clients have no sense of humor (except maybe the folks at WaMu), and that even though interest rates change daily, their ad approval process moves as slow as molasses. Also, bank clients LOVE to add as much fine print and asterisks as possible.

RestrictionsApply said...

I just remembered: Bank clients always assume that everyone has tons of money. When they provide examples about how certain banking products work, the average starting amount is almost always $100K. “In order to appreciate the benefits of this particular IRA, let’s say you make an initial investment of $100,000. At a rate of 6.2% interest over twenty years, you will have accumulated…”

auntie Christ said...

I think back on agencies I've worked at and some of the bad account people I've woked with. The worst were simple order takers, and you know what? MANY OF THEM WORK AT BANKS NOW as marketing managers. They were ineffectual and unimaginative on the agency side and they remain so on the client side.

skingly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

hmmm, I almost agree with almost everything you wrote. Canadian banking clients are pretty much the same, but all the banks have very established "brand guidelines" and they NEVER pull a campaign before it finishes because their success metrics are extremly conservative.

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