The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

99% Of Emergencies Are Caused By Procrastination …
March 20, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Adland is a dynamic business.

Every day, something new is happening and to be honest, that’s one of the reasons I love it.

It has an unstoppable energy that can pick you up and take you on an unforgettable journey.

That said, there are times when that journey is utterly, utterly shit.

There’s a bunch of reasons for that … sometimes it’s a project is killed, sometimes it’s because there’s a difference of opinion and sometimes it’s because an emergency happens that needs all hands on deck.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are occasions where some out-of-the-blue event can occur that causes a whole tsunami of trouble. Maybe it’s a World event … maybe it’s a competitive move … maybe it’s some issue within the organisation … but what drives me utterly bonkers is when it’s just lazy management.

The worst of the worst is when you get a frantic call about something that needs doing at the 11th hour.

Something they have been sitting on for an age.

Something they should have – and could have – dealt with weeks ago, if not months.

It always starts the same way.

A phone call asking for help.

They explain they’ve just had something ‘thrust upon them’.

How it’s unfair.

How they’re so busy.

How they know you’re so busy.

And then – in the same breath – they demand its execution.

That no excuse will be a good enough excuse.

That whatever you are doing is not as important as what they want you to be doing.

Because their needs are higher than your needs.

Their business is more important than your business.

That their fee is dependent on your ability to not let them down.

It’s more than just emotional blackmail, it’s blackmail.

As I said, I’m not talking about emergencies that happen beyond anyone’s control or anticipation, I’m talking about those emergencies that happen because there wasn’t any control and absolutely zero anticipation.

Even then, I can accept these things occasionally happen.

One self-created emergency is just about acceptable.


Two self-created emergencies and you better hope to god you’ve accumulated enough ‘credit’ with your agency partners to have them want to help you out.

Three self-created emergencies and you’re demonstrating your lack of capability, not your agencies.

If you want your agency to be a good partner, you have to be a good partner to your agency.

Plan ahead.

Involve early.


We throw words like ‘partner’ and ‘trust’ around like they’re confetti but they’re hugely important and incredibly hard to attain.

They also take a hell of a long time to nurture.

To do that, it requires both parties to be on the same page, not one sometimes holding a carrot and other times a stick.

If you want proof of what a long-term relationship can do, you don’t have to go much further than look at the work we do for NIKE. Or BBH do for Johnnie Walker. Or even what Ogilvy do for IBM.

Some say long term relationships build apathy. I think it liberates possibility.

But it needs equality and understanding to do that, because without it, everything dies well before the partnership is made officially dead.

We may be a ‘service industry’ [though I am not sure I agree with that] but we’re not a subservient industry which is why I believe if you have a client who is continually spreading their mayhem because of their lack of responsibility or action, then the only way you can maintain your credibility is to remind them their emergency is not our priority.

PS: The words on the picture at the top of this post were told to me by my lovely MD [that’s not creeping, he really is lovely – it makes me sick] who said they appeared on a picture that hung above a school teachers desk.

Imagine being a kid in that class … especially a kid who didn’t do their homework.

It’s evil bloody genius.

24 Comments so far
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Rob for president.

This is a great post. It’s also a fair post, maybe too fair because I’m not sure if you should ever give someone 2 presses of the (self created) emergency button.

I love the quote on the photo but more than that, “some say long term relationships build apathy. I think it liberates possibility” is a great way for clients and agencies to see the benefit of investing in building a true partnership. Sadly the lure of short term money (either making it or saving it) often stops that from having a chance of occurring.

I don’t know who provoked you to write this post but I’m grateful to them.

Comment by Pete

Ditto and bravo.

Comment by George

Ditto, because Pete conveys everything I would have said.
Bravo, because this post is an excellent read.

Comment by George

this is almost the campbell of old, the campbell that was semi decent, the campbell who gave a swift kicking to any client fucker who acted like a twat. best post youve done in about 5 years, let down by your fucking maturity of giving people an excuse to be wankers once or twice a year. in the good old days you would want to kill a starfucks employee for making you wait 12 seconds for your shitty latte and here you are excusing twatdom. how far youve fucking fallen campbell and yet this post is still 1000 times better than your usual shit. go fucking figure.

Comment by andy@cynic

Back handed compliment excellence.

Comment by DH

Another excellent read Robert however I fail to see why you would now be so generous to clients or colleagues when you were never that generous to me.

Comment by Lee Hill

dont cry lee, hes only saying it to look good, hes still a petty, spiteful fuck. just ask jill.

Comment by andy@cynic

It appears marriage changed Robert in a similar way to how fatherhood changed you Andrew.

Comment by George

Funny how you always made your emergency my priority.

Comment by DH

Not exactly the quote I used, but who am I to quibble … especially when you can throw the facts back in my face.

Comment by Rob

There’s an old agency joke about this sort of client: “Of course I want it today. If I wanted it tomorrow, I’d brief you tomorrow”.

Comment by Ian Gee

I’m shocked that the comments are pretty much associated with the post. What is going on?

What I would say is that if anyone needs a reminder why it is good to sometimes let clients or colleagues fall on their sword [if it’s of their own doing] then they should go to this:

The desire to not let things screw up is why advantages are often taken. It’s hard, but tough love is sometimes the sincerest love of them all. Unless you’re Oscar Pistorius.

Comment by Rob

You often write about wanting clients to bring you business problems to solve. It seems to me that a good way both to encourage this and to ensure that nasty surprises/emergencies are minimised would be for the agency to be asking their clients about their business almost every day.

That might emerge naturally in the long-term relationships you describe, but shouldn’t it be something that happens from day one with every client? That way you can train every client to be the kind of client you describe above.

But since I couldn’t get a job on either side of the table, I’m probably not grasping the sophistication of the situation.

Comment by John

You’re back! Congratulations, I thought the judge had said you had to be locked away for at least 5 years … boom tish. You’re right John, we should be talking to our clients about their business every day … but with the caveat being that it has to be the right client because bad ones would interpret our interest as an excuse to hand over all the work they don’t want to do … making their agency ‘partner’ nothing more than a temporary recruitment agency.

Comment by Rob

I told you already, I can’t even get arrested.

As for misinterpretation, I thought you were in the communication business. Make sure they understand.

Comment by John

so how was pervert prison doddsy?

Comment by andy@cynic

I could get you arrested John. Shall I organise that for you?

Comment by DH

Limey fire trucks are lame.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Well if I was to make a judgement on your firetrucks, I would say they were designed to be that big because some researcher discovered your fireman have a distinct lack of ‘hose length’.

Or to be less subtle, they’re the penis substitute of the US emergency service.


[Yes, it’s a smiley, get over it]

Comment by Rob

I feel a hypocrite for saying well said as I’m a terrible procrastinator although not when it affects other people
I include suits in the sitting on briefs thing and come to think about it other agencies

Comment by Northern

And don’t forget people waiting to do the next APSOTW.
[Though I hope all is OK with work/home]

Comment by Rob

Final operation today (hopefully)

Comment by Northern

Poor little sod. I’m sure all will be good but all the very best to him.

Comment by Rob

Reblogged this on Antes da uma and commented:
Só verdades. O que muita gente da indústria sempre quis falar o Rob coloca sabiamente neste post.

Comment by mateustamborlin

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