The blue boat

April 17, 2013 at 8:09 am | Posted in Business | 7 Comments
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Business marketing

Toot toot!

When I worked for advertising agencies, I heard of a client-wrangling device called ‘the blue boat’.

Though I never saw it in action, this wicked concept delighted my dark side.

Here’s how it went:

  1. If a studio thought a client was going to be tricky and picky, the creative director worked a blue boat into the campaign concept artwork.
  2. When presented with this artwork, the client invariably demanded the boat’s removal.
  3. In so doing, the client exercised power over the creative staff and felt ownership of the concept.
  4. Having showcased their expertise and stamped their authority, the client seldom felt the need to meddle with the creative process again.
  5. The campaign then proceeded smoothly.

Though guiltily attracted to this diabolical strategy, part of me thought it could be unethical and condescending.

Then again, I’ve seen ‘nightmare’ clients kill great ideas, disrespect hard working staff and otherwise throw their weight around for the sheer joy of it.

Bereft of evidence, I’d sadly concluded that blue boats must be apocryphal. Then Seth Godin wrote a post called Add some {brackets} .

Perhaps blue boats exist after all!

I’m now extremely keen to know the following:

  • As a service provider, have you ever deployed a blue boat?
  • As a client, have you ever spotted and sunk one?
  • As a reader, do you think blue boats are legitimate?
  • Are there better ways to deal with clients who display too much attitude?

Our discussion needn’t be confined to creative campaigns. It can cover pitches, tenders, letters, chats with the boss about pay rises – anything you like.

You can comment anonymously; we won’t blow your cover.

Let’s see what secrets we can raise from

the deep!


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