Client Notes – A Christmas story

Over the next few months I will write many posts about dealing with clients and their notes, because let’s face it, that is really what a working creative person does.  No matter what kind of creative work you do,  one of the most important keys to your success is taking, interpreting, and applying client notes (a.k.a. feedback).

Even if you don’t have a supervisor or creative director hovering over your shoulder, and are a fully independent freelancer, you always answer to a boss – your client!  In fact, in most cases that client involves multiple layers of approvals.  Which means layers of conflicting notes and feedback.  Isn’t being creative fun?  More on this later…

But since it is the Christmas season let me keep it light with a story that involves one of my favorite client notes ever.

I was working at a popular studio in Los Angeles when a fitness chain hired us to produce a Christmas radio spot with the completely original idea of featuring santa and his elves.  Writers quickly went to work and crafted a funny script that the client eventually signed off on.  I hired two veteran cartoon voice-over actors to play the elves and a deep voice to lend a few ho ho ho‘s to our santa.  The premise was something to the effect of two elves starting to argue when Santa burst through the door and stops the escalating fight.  Where this script setup lead I don’t recall, but that is not the point of the story.  I got great reads from both the actors portraying the elves, pitched their voices up a bit, EQ’d them just so, foley’d in the fighting and scuffling, and then added in sound design and music to create a dense Christmasy North Pole atmosphere.  We got the spot into good shape and sent it off to the client for approval.

The single note I got back was, “That is not what real elves sound like”

Real elves??? I wonder where this guy had met real elves?  Perhaps the North Pole?  Perhaps somewhere in Burbank?  I eventually fixed the spot to the clients satisfaction.  I didn’t question him about his knowledge of real elves though, just took him at his word. Happy client.  Happy creative worker.

Have an example of a crazy client note?  I am sure you do.  I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

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