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Client therapy

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.

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But you may be more intent on discussing facts.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 12:51:40 PM EST
The fact is you don't get what you don't pay for and these people didn't pay good scriptwriters.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 08:54:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is more then that, they don't know that they need good scriptwriters. Ignorance, not cheapness.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 10:17:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After a few rounds of cheapness you get ignorance.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 10:20:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This very much describes what's happened in 2nd tier communications - i.e. in-house creation of communications.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:31:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In this particular case, no-one was really thinking about encouraging greater awareness of safety among lorry drivers. It was about legal liabilities and reducing insurance premiums.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:35:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You will be pleased to know User Experience

... the experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership, but it also includes a person's perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system. User experience is subjective in nature, because it is about an individual's feelings and thoughts about the system. User experience is dynamic, because it changes over time as the circumstances change.

has its very own ISO.

Not sure at which step the ISO is applied, when UX is "solved" (sic) in Six Sigma but I'm sure it's there, somewhere.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 01:11:35 PM EST
The manual for the Tiger tank was definitely written for it's audience.

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 01:34:16 PM EST
Now that is interesting!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 01:44:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that the key purpose of a company is to be knowledgable and invent things. Audiences tend to ask for products that look a lot like what already exists. Companies can (but too rarely do) push further into new territory.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 03:59:35 PM EST
The key purpose of 400 year old joint stock company has always been to share the risk of moving into new and old territories.

The key purpose of future companies is as you describe, but the formal business education system doesn't recognize this and continues to train 'leaders' in the tasks of logistics - as theorized during and after WWII, and efficiently handled now by IT. These types of managers will be surplus to requirements in the future company.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:25:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lawyers 0 Triloqvist 1.

After screaming that the text couldn't be changed because it had been approved throughout the organization, the client finally relented. They are rewriting and have cancelled the studio session for the moment. I told them I would review their rewrite before agreeing.

A small victory for common sense, but it won't change the poor state of Finnish SME export communications.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 07:04:25 AM EST
Good for you.

Knowing your audience and tailoring your comments accordingly would seem obvious, but apparently not. Maybe your nice committee of engineers, lawyers and timeservers has been hanging out at the Ravintola Katsomo too much, and the jarring decor has caused them to take leave of their senses?

by sgr2 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 01:32:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's always been the same - they only think about what they want to say, never about how it will be received.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:21:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't blame all engineers; I've been telling managers for years whenever their methodological re-organisations won't work cos "people don't work like that" for years and they never listen. their pet schemes just fall into rat-shit within months and I'd find myself consigned to a dark corner where my cries of "I told you so" could not escape.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:26:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not the engineers.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Nov 28th, 2012 at 12:40:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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