Jump! How High?

Spike Jones at Brains On Fire recently wrote about the Master/Slave relationship. He believes too many creative firms find themselves beholden to it.

If an equal relationship and rules of engagement aren’t put in place from the beginning, then the client thinks that they can tweak umpteen-million times or call to have you place an ad the day it’s due. And it’s not their fault. It’s yours.

Rock on with your bad self, Mr. Jones!
In the comments on Spike’s post, a man named “Billy” makes it even clearer.

There is a fine line between “making the client happy” and “making the client great.” Being belligerent and proud of your work is wrong for everyone, but being restless and genuine (and proud) is sometimes rewarded with trust. I think it more-often-times-than-not comes down to the whole “kindred spirits” working relationship. Respect breeds trust breeds great work breeds more respect breeds trust…

Sadly, the picture Billy paints is all too rare. I’ve worked for seven agencies in five states and freelanced for several more. What most agency types in positions of power are restless for is the elusive “make the client happy” tonic. Yet, look at the avalanche of client defections. Clearly clients are not happy. Maybe agency types could begin to make the customer (and themselves) happy, first. It would lead to better business and better communications all around.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. In order to both celebrate and critique the industry, I started AdPulp in Chicago in 2004. In 2006, I launched and led an agency content department at BFG. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.