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Ethics? Who's Got 'Em?

 
 
eoe
 
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 11:51 am
I have a dilemma. Need some input. Fast.

My business partner and our team is working on a project for our usual client but, for the first time, my partner is acting as a writer only and not as the marketing consultant, as she usually does. I asked in the very beginning if she would have an issue working for another consultant and she assured me that she wouldn't. But I knew better.

She called yesterday morning perturbed because copy she's written has been rejected by the consultant. Her copy is much more exciting and dramatic than the consultant's suggestions, no doubt about that. I always say that she's a pain in the ass but she's the best at what she does.

What she has asked me to do is work up a cover for our proposed brochure, using her headlines, to present. Now, if she wanted only to present it to the consultant, that would be one thing but she intends to email this cover not only to the consultant but the VP of marketing AND the president and owner of the company as well. And that's the rub.

To me it sounds like she's backdooring the consultant? Or kicking her legs out from under her? If the VP and Prez prefer her copy over the consultants', which she is banking on, wouldn't the consultant have every right to be plenty pissed off, not so much about the copy but how my partner went about presenting it? To me, it's just underhanded. And now I'm in it. I told her I would work up a cover only if everyone understood that it was a work-in-progress. But still, I feel shitty and compromised doing it at all, knowing her intentions.

If the shoe was on the other foot and someone pulled something like this on her, someone supposedly working for her, she'd be screaming about it from now until Christmas.

My husband says that I should just do the job and take my emotions out of it. But I had a funky dream last night where my character was being questioned and I know it's this situation that's bugging me.

What do you think? Am I being too moralistic about this? Should I just do the cover and let the chips fall or what?
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 11:59 am
I think that in the design world it's important to understand when to let go when the client's tastes are... just plain wrong.

Going around the client is wrong to me and making them look bad isn't what the client pays for. So I guess it depends, to me, on who the client really is. If the client is the other consultant, I think it would be a mean thing to do.
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eoe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 12:10 pm
It's an 'incestuous' relationship. The client is X company who me and my partner, a freelance marketing consultant, create advertising for. They have brought in another consultant to launch a new product and this woman has 'hired' our team to create the advertising with my partner working in the capacity of a copywriter. She's not in the position that she usually holds but assured me that she would have no trouble with that. But this looks like trouble to me.

Welcome Robert. Are you a designer?
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eoe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 12:30 pm
Laughing Welcome indeed.
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 12:34 pm
I work(ed) in all aspects of marketing but design is one of my weaker areas. I know it well from a theoretical perspective and am often responsible for the design output in a project but don't tend to work in it directly.
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eoe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 12:38 pm
So what do you think about the situation? Would you design the cover? Or not?
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 12:50 pm
It's really hard to say. I would have to know who you feel your own ethical obligation to. The company or the consultant.

If I felt that the company was my client I'd have no problem putting the best work forward and letting the chips fall where they may. But if I felt like my ethical obligations went to the consultant as the client I'd feel like it was putting design principles over the client's real best interests.

Like you say, it's an incestuous relationship and it makes it complicated. I think that producing the design itself is not ethically wrong. The part I'm uncomfortable with is backdooring a client and from what you describe that sounds like what your partner wants to do, not you. If you've made your opinion clear I don't feel like you have an ethical obligation to refuse to make the mockups in order to stop your partner (of course, I don't know about any strategic reasons you might want to do so).

So with all that as a caveat, I'd design the cover in your shoes as long as the partner is clear as to how you feel about the ethical way to present the copy and preventing the gaffe isn't strategically important (e.g. the consultant is a can't-lose client).
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 12:58 pm
I am a consultant and hire other consultants on occasion to do additional work. If someone I hired to assist me in a project did what you're suggesting I would not be working with them again. It's more about trust than about ethics. Ethically, I don't think you have a dilemma. Business is business. Trust is something I look for in hiring people to work alongside me.
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eoe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 01:03 pm
hmmm...

I made it clear yesterday that it didn't sound cool but partner said to let her worry about that. Hubby says that is exactly what I should do. Sounds like that's what you guys are saying also.

hmmm....
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 01:45 pm
Eoe--

You can't stop her.

Can you be ready to pick up the pieces?
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eoe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 04:55 pm
Well, this consultant will probably be pissed off with me as well and who knows what potential projects i could lose because of it but on the other hand, she's not the client. For those of you who need a refresher, many employees of the company aren't too crazy about my partner. There's alot of animosity between them and her copy may very well be stronger than the consultants' but her underhandedness will not escape them.

As a matter of fact, when the consultant exclaimed how pleased she was to be working with my partner, an account exec replied, "you say that now..." Shocked
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jan, 2008 03:00 pm
Creative temperments!
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Mame
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jan, 2008 03:14 pm
The cleanest thing, from an ethical and messy standpoint, is to steer clear of it. I wouldn't want to work with someone who I thought was behaving unethically, and end-runs are not my cup of tea.

Really, you have more to lose than gain, so why do it? Just to please your partner? It's a crappy way to behave and you'd be guilty by association. Our instincts are always right, so just listen to yours.
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eoe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jan, 2008 08:31 am
Interestingly, on Friday, partner did not ask about the cover and I spoke with her several times. We'll see tomorrow...
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eoe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 10:03 am
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 10:11 am
I wouldn't do it. Not only is it unethical, it's stupid. Whether or not your client is an idiot with no taste, they are the ones that you need to make happy. Stabbing one of them in the back is not a good way to do that.
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 12:02 pm
Eoe--

You have my sympathy. To know disaster is coming and that you are helpless ....

You have my sympathy.
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eoe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 03:47 pm
It's over now. I'm preparing the brochure for print production as we speak.

But a month or so ago, the **** was flying so fast and furiously, the request made of me got lost in the shuffle. I sat back and watched this whole fiasco unravel just as I knew it would.
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Mar, 2008 11:27 am
Eoe--

You have a prophetic soul--and common sense.
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Heeven
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Mar, 2008 02:43 pm
so what happened?

Did the your partner go over the marketing consultants head and straight to the client, or what?

I'd be interested to know which copy finally made it.
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