I had a client once; an incredibly “frugal” client who underpaid us and complained that he paid too much. We had a very plain office in a great part of town and one of the last vestiges of affordable office space a five minute walk to the financial district where we also had clients who didn’t underpay us nor over-pay us. We were compensated fairly and paid on time.
The other client, (let’s call him Dick) would visit our offices for creative review and felt quite comfortable telling employees that he was paying us too much (me in particular) and for that I should have fired him but I didn’t. All the employees knew a Dick when they met one so we all just took it in stride.
One of the few times he said anything insightful was when he mentioned that one of the reasons he liked working with us was because of our floors. They weren’t marble. Forget the creative. We didn’t have marble floors. They were hardwood floors circa who-knows-when and he remarked that when he went into agencies with marble floors he knew exactly who was paying for those floors. I resisted telling him that with the rates he was paying his agencies it would not be him financing marble floors but he was convinced part of the revenue he paid the agency went to lavish embellishments like marble floors. Heaven help you if you had art hanging on the walls.
An account person I once worked with made a very interesting observation. He said, “You can tell a lot about a company by its lobby and its boardroom” and damn if that hasn’t proven to be true more times than not.
Dick was the communication director for a hospital so its lobby was full of people in gurneys and wheel chairs carrying who knows what diseases. The boardroom was shabby and the technology often failed to work. But this is healthcare where dollars are scarce and patients are not. But other hospitals had appealing, human-friendly lobbies and clean efficient boardrooms. To Dick’s hospital’s credit, they were in the process of raising money to build a new hospital so why waste money on the old? But there was an attitude that went with the shabby surrounds and it was incredibly arrogant despite their low ranking on annual hospital report cards as measured by the hospital association and the government.
But the issue of the marble floors has stuck with me. How shiny does an agency have to look to project the validity to handle clients like Coke, Pepsi, P&G. Microsoft, Nike or any other mega-brand? My bet is pretty shiny. And shiny all over the world. The likes of these agencies would likely have suggested Dick check into Intensive Care had he solicited them to work on his account.
We don’t have marble floors. In fact, we have all kinds of floors. Painted wooden floors, tiled floors, parquet floors and an assortment of others. Some floors are here in North America, some are in the EU and some are in Asia.
We handle a variety of clients although no hospitals at the moment. We did handle Ontario’s Ministry Health for five years and the Ontario Hospital Association for even longer.
I doubt I will ever have marble floors again. However I am in the market for a marble statue of St. Hildebrand. She is reputed to be the patron saint of creativity.
Powered by Contact Wordpress