In honour of the ghosts and goblins coming out this Halloween, I thought I would serve up my own special caldron of scary client highlights from over the years. These tales, while humorous now, spooked us out at the time. Please note, names of clients have not been identified to protect careers and corporate brands!
While nothing can quite compare to the HP horror show or the Wal-Mart/Edelman ugly-fest, we all get those client suggestions that give us chills and induce the visceral response: "Are you crazy?" We don't of course blab the obvious; instead we gently push sound strategic advice, offer a different solution, and then hope for the "okay" to go with logic. Enjoy the humour! These stories have not been embellished and are sadly, much too real. Please post and share your horror stories as well. We want to know that we're not alone.
--- A small telecommunications company president couldn't figure out why he wasn't getting the right business coverage. To help generate the desired coverage, he told us to send the reporter a bottle of 'good scotch and cigars.'
-- Our client's CEO demanded we pull together a major news conference, complete with analysts and key stakeholders, to announce his "vision." Yep, that’s right. There was no product, no customers and nothing tangible. Just a good vision!
-- CNN was interested in doing a story on our client but needed more validation of its product before airing the piece. The client suggested we tell them Microsoft was a partner, even though Microsoft wasn't remotely connected to them. Our client said it was okay, because "no one checks these things out anyways!"
-- Our client's brand was being tarnished in the media and by many consumer groups, for actions that were not perceived as community centric. To our dismay, the client believes the "silence is golden" rule applies to them and has said nothing in its own defence for more than a year. The brand continues to suffer greatly, while they keep 'mum.'