Apr 16, 2012

"Pay for my phone, you bastard!"

True story.

When I was starting out in this business as a copywriter, I earned crap (and yes, less than my male counterparts) and worked my ass off. I almost did not have enough to buy food, just pay my rent and my utilities, so when it came to a luxury of owning a mobile phone, it was very hard indeed. I ended up buying a pay as you go mobile phone because that was all that I could afford. The funny thing is, where I worked, they had a telecommunications client. But years went by and no one at my agency offered to even make me a deal on a new phone, so one day I walked in with my new and "other company" phone.

The shit hit the fan. Big time. My boss started to yell at me at the top of his lungs that how could I do such thing, how could I not believe in our client and buy a mobile phone from somewhere else... I barely remember what happened next, because when I get really angry I do the hulk thing and forget what I say, all I can remember is saying, at sort of the top of MY lungs (I didn't have any problems screaming back): well, OUR client does not make any affordable plans for a person like ME who earns ALMOST NOTHING!

My boss sat with huge eyes, staring in disbelief as I continued: I work here and I believe in our ad campaigns and our clients, but when I open that door and leave I AM A CONSUMER just like everybody else. This is my personal phone, and if you want me to change it, then YOU PAY FOR IT! In fact, I said, I'll be shutting down this phone, so if you want me to come in a saturday and don't find me, now you will remember that I don't earn enough to have a mobile from our dear client.

I don't remember what happened next... I can remember yelling at my Traffic Director that I was happy if he fired me over a damn mobile phone, yada yada yada...

Long story short, I had a phone in less than 8 hours, top of the line, and totally paid for by my agency.

What is the lesson here? While I believe that we need to support our clients and buy their products, at least in my book there is no reason why we are obligated to do so. We are normal people when we are outside our agency. We buy a shitload of things for our personal reasons and the ad agency or your client doesn't need to tell you if you did it right or wrong.

Yes, it's a tricky situation. I've been to bars where I found myself ordering a beer from an unmarked glass because I didn't want people to see me drinking "the non-client beer". I've gone to the supermarket and bought crap american cheese because I wanted my client to get more sales, when they dropped us, I switched instantly to another crap american cheese. I have bought many cars from X brand while pitching a shitload of other car accounts. What I'm saying is that you need to have a balance, you need to pitch in when you can, but don't surrender your choices to whatever clients your agency has.

You are an ad person, you make ads to earn a living. But we all end up with a list of brands that are non-negotiables, and sometimes your agency just doesn't have one. For example, I would not buy a PC even if Bill Gates were my special client. EVER. I would do his campaign with sheer dedication and pride, but still I would come home to my Mac, any day of the week. Why? Because some brands work for us, period, and you cannot change them.

It's your decision. Not your agency. So find your balance, yell at your boss if he gives you shit and move on.


Joker said...

I’ve always taken special interest in consuming the competition’s products when I’ve been pissed at my clients. You see, I could be loyal and I could go to bat for a client every time. The thing is that if the relationship is sour, I can’t help but view the advertising and marketing cynically. Let’s put it this way, when I worked a car account, I couldn’t take my client seriously not just for the revisions they gave us which bordered on ridiculous, but because I tried getting them clients and they didn’t give the minimum required mile for a sale. Three car sales they let slip by just with me. A Pickup truck a large sedan and a mid size sedan. As for my fast food company, I relished every time I ate the competition’s food especially after a particularly difficult day. That’s because as a consumer, I’m emotional, I respond to my feelings and I have the right to consume what I want to consume.

I’ve worked bank accounts, car accounts, beer accounts, alcohol accounts, restaurant accounts, hotel accounts, fine dining accounts and even cigarette accounts. The only ones who did anything of benefit were the cig companies, giving us free cartons to promote their cigs and smoke ourselves. Did I get a special offer at a fast food? Nope. Did I get preferred treatment from the restaurant chains? Nope. Not even a free cookie. Did I get special rates from a hotel? Dream on. That’s because there’s a double standard, and while we have to be faithful to a client, a client can cheat on us all they want, and that’s bullshit.

So to each consumer, their own choice.

Osama Zain said...

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