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One of the things I have always loved about my job is meeting the weird and the wonderful … however one of the things I adore about my job is when I can involve the weird and the wonderful into existing projects.
Over the years I’ve involved all sorts of people with all sorts of ‘diverse’ backgrounds to help us help clients be more interesting, engaging and effective – from car thieves to mothers with multiple kids to stand up comedians to Buddhist priests and almost everyone in-between.
However, much to my colleagues delight – and my mother’s dismay – there is one category of individual that I have gained a reputation for turning to, and that is people who work within the adult entertainment industry.
Adult entertainment industry?
OK, let me define it more clearly … prostitutes and strippers, pimps and pornographers.
In all seriousness, I have been introducing these ‘specialists’ to my clients for years – and whilst their first impression may be shock when I talk about getting them into the meetings and process – by the time they have heard their insights, views, experiences and opinions [which obviously all link to a certain aspect of their business and/or business problem] they feel they have powerful information that very few people, organizations and/or industries could ever hope to identify, let alone give them.
The reason I bring this up is that I am currently embroiled in a project where yet again, ‘ladies of the night’ are helping me out.
Without going into too much detail, they are helping me educate my client [who is in the hospitality business] why they are not doing as well as they could.
You see prostitutes go where the money is [or as Mr Dodds likes to say, they ‘fish where the fishes are’] and when I first stepped on my clients property, I realized there were very few who hung around there and given the category, location and clientele they have – that is not good at all.
Now to be fair, there’s quite a few reasons for this situation – their security people for one – however, what these wonderful and smart ladies have been able to do is clearly articulate why there is such a lack of their presence onsite, which as a byproduct, identifies the real issue facing my clients business [which has now formed the foundation of what our brief is] and highlights the ‘excuses’ many of the people in the company have given for their lack of performance and/or judgement.
So am I suggesting that my client should evaluate our success by the upturn in prostitute presence?
Well yes, actually I am.
Of course there will be many other factors as well – however whether you like it or not, prostitutes are some of the most entrepreneurial business people around – so if our work results in them wanting to find a way into my clients establishment, then it means we must be doing something right.
The reason I bring this up is that quite often – when trying to identify the fundamental issues facing a client – we often rely on a standard approach to investigation.
There is nothing wrong with this, however if you tend to have one methodology you tend to see problems the same way and this is often the driving force behind the sameness of ad agencies solutions for their clients.
Of course I am NOT suggesting adult entertainers can offer insight to every client problem NOR am I saying that you should approach them to help every client problem … what I AM saying is that when you are approaching a challenge, you should go way beyond the usual subjects for your information because a conversation with someone from R&D or payroll or the job centre of adult entertainment – could open up your mind to new and/or alternative underlying issues which could ultimately help you identify new and exciting ways to overcome them.
Just for the record … I talk to people from many walks of life, not just ‘sexperts’ … however the reason why I have found myself getting them involved in what we’re doing is because we have a bunch of clients where having a real understanding of societies deep and dark secrets, thoughts and behaviours has helped us identify both the real problems and the real opportunities.
It might sound like a joke – and I know you’re all sniggering at the back – but I can honestly say their insight and information has had a big part to play in helping us develop work work and ideas for a whole bunch of brands from Tango and Virgin Atlantic to VB Beer and Dreamworks – though you would be hard pressed to understand why by looking at what we have done, because their role is to help us understand people, not help us how to sex things up.
And that’s the point, just because someone is only seemingly specialised in one category doesn’t mean they can’t contribute thoughts and knowledge to another. Of course their situation has to have some sort of relevance to the issue you are looking at, but you’d be amazed what learnings you can get by having a chat to someone who is not weighed down with the baggage of how certain industries operate.
We call this intelligent naivity so next time you are in a situation where you have to really understand the issues facing an industry or why society has a particular viewpoint, don’t just go with depth, explore some breadth [as long as you don’t find yourself in this situation] because you never know just what they might help you turn up and even if nothing does come of it – you’ll of had a bloody interesting time doing it and might have some learnings you can use at a later date.
Finally, if for some reason you do find that someone from the adult industry could help you in a particular area [and obviously I mean related to your job, not your perversion] could I suggest you approach the matter sensitively because you might not have the clients, colleagues, accounts department and wife that let you get away with it and I’m sure-as-shit not going to let you sue me when you’re sacked for sexual misconduct or expense misuse.
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