“What did the client say?”

I came across an interesting and fun piece in Ad Age Daily I wanted to share with you, in case you haven’t seen it.

Derek Walker, whom I’ve never met but hope to, has a blog about advertising. He describes himself as “the janitor, secretary and mailroom person for his tiny agency, brown and browner advertising based in Columbia, S.C.” So right off the bat I like him.

His posting in Ad Age was called, Clients Say the Funniest Things. Since I’ve been on both sides of the desk I found his client quotes and reactions to advertising creative to be right on target and very funny.

So to those of you on the agency side, please enjoy. Those of you on the client side, well, here’s what some of your counterparts elsewhere, ahem, sound like.

For those of you who haven’t witnessed the presentation of creative messages and the reactions, this will be a window on the dance that sometimes takes place.

Here’s the interesting part — these reactions often happen to marketers themselves when they present creative work to their management who, in effect, is a client.

With thanks to Derek Walker for his approval, here are some client comments he has heard:

  • “We love the concept, it’s great! But can we change the visual, rework the headline and adjust the copy. Other than that we love it!”
  • “We don’t want ‘friends’ or for people to ‘like’ us. We want customers.”
  • “In the marketing class I took in college, the instructor said you should mention your company’s name at least seven times in a radio spot to be effective. Can we add 5 more mentions? That would make it great.”
  • “We don’t want to use emotions, we’re talking to business people and they don’t have them.”
  • On social media: “I get it but I’m worried that people will start talking about our product without us.”
  • After laughing hilariously for a couple of moments: “That’s great! It does everything we want and it stands out. But seriously, let’s see the real work.”
  • “Everyone loved the concept, then I took it home and showed it to my wife who used to be an English teacher and she said the line isn’t grammatically correct. Can you write a new headline?”
  • “We can’t do this; it is nothing like what we’ve done in the past.”
  • “Why talk to customers, can’t we just tell them what we offer?”
  • “I don’t understand why you put in so much effort. It’s only a website. Couldn’t we just throw up something and be done with it?”
  • “None of our competitors are doing or saying anything like that. How do we know it will work?”
  • “We don’t want to spend any money but we want everyone to know about us, we want to be everywhere our customers are.”
  • “Do we really need to be creative? I mean, isn’t our product great enough to attract attention?”
  • “I don’t believe in advertising, we’re only doing this because our competitors are.”
  • “I sure miss the days when all we had to do was produce a calendar with tits and ass and everyone was happy.”

For some of us in the booze business, the last one really resonates.

My own personal favorite is when a presenter of creative gets pushback from the client and asks for specifics on how to address the concerns. Too many times, I’ve heard the phrase, “I can’t tell you… I’ll know it when I see it.”

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