Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Great fiction of our time: Agency time sheets

I'd like to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a client. He was very, very well hung, was widely considered a genius, and had a very nice BMW motor car.

He employed an advertising agency to do his...advertising, obviously...and at the end of every month, he was shown a record of the time the agency's staff had been spending on his account. This came in the form of time sheets.

They were written in tartan ink, on paper made from clouds, and bound in folders hand-crafted by Bilbo Baggins, Superman and Dora The fucking Explorer.

The client, being a shrewd and, it was agreed, very attractive man, inspected the time sheets closely. Some would say 'Ad concept, 2 days.' Some would say 'Ad concept, 3 days.' Some would even say 'Ad amend, 4 hours.'

Though the client was kind and patient he....aah, fuck it. I can't keep this shit up.

Let me cut right to the chase: how the FUCK do you agency boys fill in time sheets? Do you get trained to pick a number, add ten and double it? Or does it come naturally? Because, for the life of me, I can't make the connection between what you do and what appears on these tissues of falsehoods, these great tomes of hogwash, these fucking bibles of bullshit.

Take ad concepts, for starters. I came up with the Cleanavia campaign in almost no time at all. Literally. One second the idea wasn't in my head, the next IT WAS! How is it different for you? Surely it goes: haven't got the idea, haven't got the idea, haven't got the idea, haven't the idea, GOT THE IDEA!

Why should I be paying for you to not have the idea? What, because you're 'thinking about it'? Jesus! I don't pay the girls at Delilaz to not do the thing where they get their ankles right know...round the back there and...sort that thing with their lower back know...just behind the...thing. Of course I don't! And I don't pay them to 'think about it'! I pay them to do it. Why are you any different to 20-quid-a-go lapdancers?

And as for amends, don't get me fucking started. (Except you have, so tough balls.) Why should I pay you to amend an ad I HAVE MADE BETTER?

An example. My last agency did an ad which, after consulting with my mother, I rejected, on the grounds that the headline was 'the kind of thing a whore would say'. (My mother makes some harsh judgements on ads, but she's nearly target audience, so what can you say?) I proposed a couple of changes (you know, 'Try making the headline less whorish - and be quick about it', that sort of thing) which they did - and the ad got signed off!

So, we went from an ad being rejected, through Dave Knockles-inspired changes, to an ad being signed off. AND I'M EXPECTED TO PAY FOR IT! Clearly, without my improvements, the ad wouldn't have been signed off! It's a fucking joke!

So, my advice to you, fellow marketing professional, is to police these timesheets closely or, even better, do what I did: agree to pay a monthly retainer plus amends charges - then change your mind a week later once they can't do without your income and make them do amends for free!

It's a win-win, really. You get to fuck about with the ads until they look the way you want, and the agency learns how advertising is done properly.

That's the way I like it. And that's the way it is!

Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!


  1. And you are the worst kind of client. That's why you're not MY client - and never will be. If you're so brilliant - do it all yourself then and spare us burden of your ego.

  2. you, my friend (can I call you my friend?) are an inspiration to all clients. I love your work and your handsome looks.

  3. @
    I looked up 'apogee' in know...has words in it...DICTIONARY! That's it - I looked it up in a dictionary. Apparently, the apogee is the highest or furthest point. Which is appropriate, because I'd like you to go the highest or furthest point from me. And when you get there, perhaps you'd like to take a very large rock and introduce it to your face.

    However, if I've misread your comment, sincere apologies. And up your bum.

    @ Ratty Persian
    Anyone who buys me a drink / a lapdance is my friend. But if you also speak such good sense about my looks and what an inspiration I am, then, yes, you may call me friend. Friend.

    However, if you are in any way an idiot, I'll drop you so fast your trousers will end up on your head.


  4. Hi, I like the blog page! Actually, anyone who pays an ad agency based on time spent and timesheets must be mad anyway. Surely a price should be quoted for the job, then that price is paid when the job is done? That's how we do it anyway. Obviously I realise this post is mainly tongue-in-cheek (is it?) but of course a designer may come up with 27 ideas before 1 or 2 are selected to show the client. And this may take any amount of time between 1 minute and several days. And those ideas may be refined and tweaked by the creative team until it is ready to show to the client. But if you've been quoted a price for a job, it doesn't matter how long it takes the agency, because you pay for the job, not the time it takes. And you should only really pay for changes once the copy has been signed off and the ad has gone to artwork. Until then it's a work in progress and you can never expect to get it spot on first time as copy is very personal and the client is often very rightly sensitive about the types of words and images that are used. Bottom line, get a better agency!

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