By Trent Rentsch
Oh, how I love Clients! I especially love the way they have tight deadlines. I love it when they request 47 seconds worth of copy in a 15 second spot. I love it when they need multiple voices, all children and/or the elderly, “The real thing, no silly character voices, please.” I love it when they hate the voices that I choose, and demand new casting… only to go back to the original voices. I love it when they decide to have their child and/or Grandfather come to the station to be one of the voices, then hate “the sound of my microphone” on their untrained voices. I love it when every music cut I choose is wrong, and they demand that I explain for the 47th time why they can’t use “Happy” under their ad. I love it when I’m asked to add their phone number 2 more times. I love it when they complain that the ad “sounds rushed” after I add their phone number 2 more times. I love it when they complain that the voice over “still doesn’t sound fast and exciting” after I’ve time compressed the ad by 10% to add their phone number 2 more times. And I love, love, LOVE it when they “don’t buy the ad,” and I hear it on a competing station, watermark and all.
Sarcastic? ME? Far from it. I DO love Clients… I really DO. And it’s more than the fact that their dollars have kept me employed all these years. As it turns out, there are many reasons that I love clients… and they are quite often the same reasons that they drive me insane some days.
It’s been many years since I did ads for, let’s call her, “Mrs. B.” She owned a small gift store and spent the majority of her advertising budget with our station (and a nice chunk of change it was), so it was an unspoken truth that anyone at the station would do what they could to keep Mrs. B happy. It was also a highly grumbled truth that it was pretty much impossible to make Mrs. B happy, no matter what we did.
By the time I was Production Director at the station, her outbursts were already legendary. She insisted on voicing her own ads, and while she “allowed” the station to write her scripts, they were always “horrible” when she arrived to voice them… generally an hour or so late. After barking about how horrible the scripts were, there were always “rewrite sessions” in the studio, filled with commentary on the station’s “unprofessionalism.” I won’t say that she scared off my predecessors, but after my first session with her, it seemed likely. In fact, after my first session, I was determined that I would be “otherwise occupied” when she came in for any future sessions… yes, I’m not proud to admit that I was more than willing to pawn off her sessions on some poor, unsuspecting announcer, whenever possible. But then, there’s Karma…
“Mrs. B wants you,” the Sales Rep told me. Surely, it couldn’t be possible! I’d only recorded her once, and it was a nightmare! I made her music too loud, then her voice too loud, then her coffee too cold and her water too warm… and “what IS that smell in here?” As frustrated as I was at the end of that session, I could only imagine that she would demand ANYONE but me again… but there I was, back in Prod 2, watching her scribble over her script in red pen, grumbling about “that idiot copywriter.”
For the rest of my years at the station, I recorded Mrs. B’s ads, and the process never improved. I did manage to pry a smirk out of her once in a great while, but by and large it was always an exhausting session… and there were always several a month. And she always requested me… even re-scheduled, if it happened that I was on vacation or sick (or pretended to be). I could only imagine that I had pissed off the great cosmic production wheel somehow, and my penance was that cold-hearted Mrs. B.
Of course, eventually even all bad things come to an end. I had accepted a new job in a new town, and the day came for my final session with Mrs. B. I knew she had been told, but it was status quo: late start, re-writes, “bunch of idiots.” Yes, it was the same old… until she stopped as she was walking out the door. “I know, you know,” she said. “I know I’m hard. I know I make it hard on everyone here. I’m an old Bitch with no sense of humor, and I’m impossible to make happy. But from the first time you worked with me, you tried… and you’ve kept trying. I… well, I just hope you aren’t stuck working with another old bat like me at your next station. You deserve better.” And with that, she was gone. Some months later, I heard she died in an accident. I cried like hell.
I believe that everything we experience is meant to teach us something. We can let “bad Clients” make us angry and frustrated, or we can take the opportunity to analyze what makes them difficult and learn how to work with them, rather than complaining about them. It’s surprising how much a little extra effort is appreciated, whether we realize it or not.
Clients… you gotta love ‘em!
Trent Creates words, voices, audio and music. His professional home is Krash Creative Solutions. You can contact him at: