Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Yesterday I had a client with really thick, luxurious beautiful hair that hung just below her shoulders. Her hair was definitely her best feature. She came in saying she wanted "a wedge, but didn't want to loose a lot of the length." Now a "wedge," is the Dorothy Hamill cut from the '70's. (The client is 61 years old.) So the consultation took some time during which I began to understand the look she was going for and suggested a long layered cut. But she insisted that she wanted the back graduated, so we finally agreed to a long (just above shoulder length) inverted bob. I parted her off and started cutting the back. She said "You're not cutting off ten inches back there are you?" I showed her how much 3 inches is on the comb (there are numbered notches); then held the hair up in the mirror to show her where I was cutting. She said "Oh good, cause I don't want too much off." Her very dense hair took about twenty five minutes to cut, during which time she kept grabbing combs off my station and parting off and combing her hair. I had to keep telling her that I knew how to part hair and that if she wanted the cut to come out right she had to stop playing with her hair while I was working. I then gave her a fabulous (if I do say so myself) blow-out. Other students, and two instructors, commented on how great it looked. When I was done she said "Oh this is much too long. The kids will say it's not different at all." Since we had had only FOUR clients the entire day and I was extremely bored, I agreed to cut it again. So I took off another two and a half inches. Then she wanted the it set on hot rollers. So we did that too. Even though she didn't pay for it. When we finally finished she said she loved the cut but would come back in two weeks cause she wanted to do something so the curl would hold. I told her that they way to get that would be with a long layered cut! Then we had a 15 minute discussion/consultation about her color.

So many things in this experience were just like advertising clients. Getting crap for free, trying to do it them selves, dictating a process that can never result in the product they want. Jeshshshsh.

When I worked on Borden. We did a year's worth of research to develop a new ad platform for Sweetened Condensed Milk. In almost every focus group we'd have some woman weeping as she remembered her grandmother's pie or uncle's home-made strawberry ice cream. Simply seeing the package could make their eyes start to fill up. And not just one or two times. This happened in almost every group. Advertising gold! Now all we had to do was take all that emotional intensity and package it in a :30 spot. The Creative Team did a masterful job. The storyboards tested well and we where sure people would be making twice the amount of fudge and double the pies they had made in pervious holiday seasons. But WAIT! Right before
production was to begin the Client mandated that we revise the spots to :15's. We spent weeks trying to create :15's with the emotional impact of the :30's. It just wasn't going to happen. We explained the nature of theatre -- and how to have intense emotion you need tension. And tension has to build, and that takes TIME. Client still wanted to "make it like the Hallmark spots." They couldn't believe that what Hallmark does in a :60 or :90 can't be done in :15. Of course we ended up with :15 vignettes that did little more than list the product attributes among a somewhat warm family feeling. No tears among our viewers. And no big bump in business.

You just can't win. If you can, let me know how.