by Sven Triloqvist
Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 11:58:48 AM EST
One of those tricky situation today where a new client wants a voiceover, but the script (obviously concocted by a nice committee of engineers, lawyers and timeservers at a major Finnish company) is crap.
The issue is safety, and the audience is lorry drivers. "Please read out this text approved by the lawyers." Will I fuck? Very few lorry drivers, in my experience, have a university education. But that doesn't mean they don't understand when idiots are talking among themselves.
Do not address such an audience as Ladies and Gentleman.
Do not use such words as verify, induction procedures, appropriate, competent, and courteous. Try to rephrase such crackers as "Try out in order to verify the energy isolation!" And remember that `gas' means different things in different cultures.
But it is almost impossible to change anything; therefore I have declined the gig. Some idiot somewhere sometime wrote a piece about safety - probably in Finnish. It was possibly language rape from the start - I don't know. But this bit of corporate communications DNA is now deeply embedded in this corporate culture. To unravel this small distortion means a complete rebuild.
I've written a long letter to my client (not the ultimate client) to explain. I'm afraid they are `take the money and run' types. But I haven't given up hope yet. They say they understand and respect my assertions, and are currently pleading with me to do the job, while explaining their hands are tied.
I'm not going to tell the agency, but their hands are not tied. They could, if they wanted, turn this into a benefit by offering a service that ensures that their client's message works internationally in all target markets. This requires a network - for instance, I contacted our old friend Bruno-Ken when I was writing stuff for a Chinese audience, and received valuable advice on the special characteristics of that audience from someone on the spot.
Professionally I write for the audience, not the client. And I always assume that that's what my clients pay me for - the ability to translate to ensure the message gets through.
But as I've said numerous times, facts and perceptions of facts are not as closely related as one might imagine. The Persuasion Industry is rightly under threat, and will remain so, as long as the communication model increasingly focuses on what is called the UX, or User experience. The slow inexorable shift to the UX (which affects all parts of all organizations), is being resisted, but it will fall within worldwide months rather than years.
The UX, innocent little acronym as it is, is going to radically change business when the online numbers represent a significant audience threat to the organization. When a company is audience driven, are strategic executives needed? When audiences decide products, are product and brand managers needed? When voters know what they want, are representatives needed?
The greatest brand manager of all time was Joseph Goebbels. Discuss.