The graveyard account

The graveyard account

“The Graveyard Account.” That’s what we called it. Every marketing agency has a one. It’s the client that no one wants to work for. Which was a problem for me as creative director, because I was responsible deciding who worked on which accounts. Persuading someone to work on the graveyard account involved pleading, cajoling and bribery in equal measure. But there was one graveyard account that bucked this trend, and taught me a valuable and humbling lesson about being a creative director in the process. This particular client sold office phone systems. The product was boring. The sales channel was complicated. And their budgets were always tight. Whenever we presented new creative ideas, these clients would make so many changes that in the end our designs looked exactly like what we’d done before. They would say they preferred to stick with “what worked”. The entire agency was demotivated as a result. And as it turns out, the clients were not happy either. They felt they were not getting our best work, and were considering putting their account out to pitch. It was at this point, through luck rather than judgement, that I made a decision which changed everything. Within six months, the graveyard account was to become the agency’s most profitable and award winning client. It all started with a simple “please take one” leaflet. I needed someone to design it, and the team that usually worked on the graveyard account were already booked. So I asked a new recruit, Julie, to take it on instead. Julie hadn’t yet heard all the stories about “the graveyard”. And I wasn’t...