Sometimes just saying no is best

Give him what he wants?

Give him what he wants?

I have a five-year old boy.

I wish I’d had one at the start of my career – I’d have been so better equipped to deal with clients! ..Now, I’m not saying that all clients are like five year old boys, it’s just that sometimes dealing with one can be like dealing with the other…

My son sees something on TV, or in the hands of another child and he has to have it. “Please daddddddyyyyyyy. But I want it.

And I say “no”, as a parent should. He doesn’t need it. It’s expensive. He’ll be bored of it in 5 minutes (unless it comes with packaging – then the whatever it is has no chance – my son loves playing with his packaging!).

Sometimes a client can put me in a similar spot. The client sees something, has an idea and he wants it. What the client wants, the client gets as they say, but I try to use my experience and knowledge to steer them clear of wasting their time or money.

The best example I ever came across of this was when I worked for a large agency in Dublin.

The client was a big, big account and they wanted their radio ads written in a certain way. Fair enough, but we all knew in the agency that this wasn’t what was in the the client’s best interest. We’d written and presented much more effective adverts for the client but he wasn’t interested, so the Account Director simply said let’s run what he wants.

And 99% of the time in that agency that’s what would have happened. But our Creative Director said no. Absolutely no. The better ads had to be sold. It wasn’t just the client’s reputation but also our own that was at stake.

So instead of trying to sell the preferred ads the Group Account Manager appeared and asked politely could we run the client’s ads -Again.. NO!

No ad could go into production without the Creative Director’s sign off so we were in stalemate. Finally the Agency Group Managing Director waded in and put the pressure on but still the answer was no.

The client was wheeled in then and after a very heated exchange our Creative Director got his way. But the account was on the line and people’s noses were well out of joint.

The ads ran..

The client sold more than ever before! We didn’t lose the account and we used the quality of the ads to win more business. It all ended happily ever after.

The big thing that I took out of this was that an ad, a design – anything we produce not only reflects on our client but on us. And that you’ve got to be able to stand up to the pressure and make the tough calls when it happens.

The other thing that changed is that our department took a lot more pride in what we did from then on – we were determined not to let ourselves down, nor the client.

I later asked our Creative Director how he had felt about all the pressure and the fact that the account was on the line.

He had a simple answer, “It’s always on the line so why not always fight to do work you are proud of?” It works for clients and so far on my five year old…

Kevin O’Shea is the Creative Director of Fuzion

Fuzion provide Design and Creative solutions across all media from our offices in Dublin and Cork

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