Do you tow the line of professional ad agency that is dialed in and never misses a beat, or do you cross over into let’s grab a beer and see where the night takes us? When I started my own agency, Total BS, this is a line that I never paid attention to. I basically walked right through it, smearing any trace of its presence. That coupled with the fact that I was fortunate enough to have a few early clients that were also just rad human beings—people that you would naturally gravitate towards and enjoy sharing a happy hour with.
In my previous roles working at agencies or corporations, the social interaction between client and agency was always very manufactured. Go to a meeting, present the next steps, it’s 5 o’clock so maybe you go out for drinks where you make menial small talk about their lives and what they do, always aware of “that tricky line.”
I’ve always been baffled by this small talk. I hate small talk. I’d rather sit silently on shards of glass before manufacturing a PC Q&A.
At the root of any client is a human, regardless of the brand guidelines, deadlines or corporate politics they answer to. If you don’t really know what makes your client tick as a human being, how can you fully measure up to meeting their standards?
I realized this level of human/client interaction at a recent Total BS game night. These nights are filled with friends. Notice how I said friends, and not clients. Most recently we played a hybrid version of Pictionary and Cards Against Humanity—mix them together and voila—Pictures Against Humanity.
For any of you that have played Cards Against Humanity and understand the topics, yes, we went there. The rules were simple. Two teams, one person at a time draws the white card and their team tries to guess. I’m not sure what was more amazing, the pictures or some team members’ uncanny ability to look at obscure stick figures and guess accurately.
In the end, pizza was consumed, Jonas drank a whole bottle of Tito’s, and penises were drawn. I will see many of these guests again either at another game night or our next meeting, and it won’ t be weird.
I take a firm approach that our clients won’t see just a stuffy agency version of the B and the S, but rather the actual uninhibited, call it like we see it, quirky versions. What you see is what you get, and we are lucky enough to have attracted clients with the same ideology.