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Vanja for Marketing mreža

ON RESPONSIBILITY

Val

Why does someone, who is not a creative by vocation and probably doesn’t have a lot of affinity for creative work (if we disregard helping out their kid with the occasional art class assignment), feel the need to revise things done by some of the best experts in the Croatian advertising industry (Señor team <3). Let’s not kid ourselves, the conclusion is as simple as it is disheartening: they don’t trust us. 

I had one of those days when you question everything, what you do, how you do it and why you do it at all. I can hear my colleagues whine; clients write better copies, design better than our art directors, know everything about typography… They are qualified editors, art directors, casting managers, even directors. If I would be superficial (I got 99 flaws but superficiality ain’t one) I would get angry. And I kinda am... It gets on my nerves. I arrive at the agency and start swearing like a sailor (even though I am not a particularly creative swearer), listen to sad songs and daydream about being so rich that I don't ever have to work again. When the non-constructivism wears off, I tend to analyze things and search for causes. Why does this happen? Holistically speaking: a band-aid doesn't help when your hand is amputated.

A few days ago I took my shirts to the dry cleaners’ so they could iron them. I didn’t know the lady that works there so I spent 10 minutes trying to explain to her the exact way I want my shirts ironed. I don’t want lines on the sleeves, I hate when my collar is sticking out and be careful around the print, please! Because if you expect the handymen to screw up your bathroom tiles, the salesman at your local market to trick you by tipping the scale, then why would it be any different when you order four pounds of advertising. I did not trust her so I (understandably?!) took matters (not the iron, though) in my own hands and gave the lady a fair amount of advice, even though I never ironed more than five shirts in my life. 

Then it hit me! I've met a bunch of designers who work in advertising because they cannot make a living designing smalltown-dance-radio-drama festival posters, directors that make commercials while they're waiting for their first feature to happen (btw it never happens), creative I-can't-make-a-decision directors, digitalist specialists who can't tell likes from communication, wannabe copywriters, copy-paste accounts... Is it possible that the client thinks that agencies, in general, don't understand their problems and their only goal is to get more money for less work? Even if the agencies do care, they are doing it just for the awards and they don't preoccupy themselves with client's issues.

Responsibility has a few levels: personal (satisfying your own needs), job responsibility (so you could deliver at work) and - relationship responsibility. Unfortunately, behind every relationship, there's a conflict. Internal conflict inside each one of these sides. Conflict between the need for cooperation and the need for your own integrity. We participate in a business relationship (as in every relationship) so we could fulfill our own needs/goals - just like our partner does. If we are building a symmetrical relationship in which both sides have resources needed for doing the job properly (client - information / agency - knowledge), both partners are equally responsible so the relationship can function without reducing either one. 

Compromise is often not a good solution since meeting half way means that no one got what they actually wanted. Maybe it's better to pick one side at a time (like windshield wipers do!). And that doesn’t work without mutual respect, courtesy and trust. If you are reading this thinking "but my client doesn't understand the stuff we are doing for them, they have no idea about our line of work, they don't want to listen to our suggestions…" maybe you are working with the wrong client. Not every couple is ideal, nor is every relationship sustainable. You owe it to yourself to find/make a better one. 

I know how we approach work. The effort that we put in, the knowledge and the experience of highly motivated people trying to give their maximum. Is it always the best? I don't know. It's the best that it can be at that moment. Behind our every presentation there are hours and hours of thinking, discussions and, maybe more importantly, passion. I would call it responsibility towards your partner, your job and yourself. A responsibility so that the job and the relationship you're taking on are delt with properly. Sometimes, when the stars align like they are supposed to, even brilliantly. If responsibility is not the standard, we'll break the clients' trust and they’ll think of us as some back alley shady characters selling questionable goods. They'll wonder if we are here to procrastinate, misguide and bullshit them or are we actually here to help them communicate better.

And for that reason, my dear "colleague", every time you try to pass a bad idea as a good one thinking that you fooled the client, and every time you don't live up to your own standards, you (unwillingly) undermine everyone that does this job - responsibly. So please, don’t help us anymore. Thanks.

I'm aware of the complexity of the subject so some of the thoughts have been simplified for the purpose of not making the read too long. For a commentary, literature used or a discussion, please e-mail me at vanja@senor.hr 

senor no hablo espanol