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An Evening of Tense, Excruciating Awkwardness

Thanks to all who attended an Evening of Excruciating Awkwardness hosted by NORTH and 52ltd. The 100 + crowd enjoyed fine beer and wine, hors d’oeuvres by Tavola and a lively debate about client/creative tension moderated by Linda Jeo Zerba of Deputy Consulting and featuring: John Hart, CMO of Ann Sacks and Kallista brands, Scott Biniak, Associate Director of Advertising/Nike APHQ, Steve Sandstrom, Creative Director and Partner at Sandstrom Partners and Mark Ray, ECD at NORTH. For those that missed it, top line conclusions (as we recall them):

For creatives:

Always be hungry, always be in new-business mode (even with an established client), always think ahead for your clients.

Sometimes there is a better idea. If you think there’s only one creative solution to a business problem you might want to look at a different career.

It makes for a bad meeting if the emphasis seems to be on “selling.” Offer to share a great opportunity that will solve for the client’s need. Then make a robust, watertight case for that opportunity focused on the client’s goal.

For clients:

The worst meetings are those in which the key decision maker is not present (although they may seem like good meetings at the time.)

Be disciplined up front. Don’t use the creative presentation as the jumping off point for a discussion about strategy. Ensure everyone client side is in agreement before engaging the agency.

Clients need to be smart about their stuff – know the business goals, plans for growth, the customer inside and out… and know all those things better than the agency.

Don’t assume creatives are producing something for their own self-expression. Most often they have the client’s goals in mind.

For both:

The best relationships are those in which there is trust – a “safe” environment in which to have a frank exchange of views about the work.

Remember that this is a business but there is something magical that happens when you make art, and sometimes that magic can transfer into something commercial.

The best work speaks to a universal human truth to which everyone can relate.

See? Something good usually comes out of those extremely awkward situations.

Even if it’s just a free meal and a bit of information that can help you later on down the line.

Photos by Chris Teso

Deschutes: Bravely Done

Jim Carey