I was doing a cover for a Statement of Accounts for a large local government
organisation, 18,000 employees, £600m turnover, so you would think the financial
manager would have a bit of nous. What did she want to put on the cover?
The phrase 'Typical of the Council, playing games with our money' sprung to mind
so that was vetoed. Instead I created a cover with a great photograph we had
comissioned that fitted perfectly with the overall communications strategy of the
organisation and perfectly conveyed the message of the council spending the
people's money on their behalf and for their benefit.
What did she think of that? 'The picture's too big, we liked the lots of little ones
last year'. OK, rework the cover with a number of similar pictures. Design not as
strong now, but that's life. Her response? 'Too peopley, can we have something
At this point I start to wonder why a financial officer has any say whatsoever in the
cover? Why does she get to try and do my job? I wouldn't phone her up and say
"Oh hi, I was just looking at the balance sheet, would you be able to change all the
nines to sevens? It's just that I don't really like nine, and seven's my birthday." It
just wouldn't happen, it's not my job. Design is my job, so why in an organisation
with a supposed coherent design strategy does she get to decide? Drives me nuts.
Anyway, we agree on a cover with a range of images, then this morning I get an
email wondering if a picture with some food in the bottom corner is politically
correct as they were not allowed to use a picture of a piggy bank last year. WTF?
So I ask people who've been around longer than I have and the picture of the piggy
bank was rejected for similar lines to the sudoku, it was trivial and someone would
think 'making a pig's ear' and we'd be buggered. So next I check the photo.
It has some trays of rolled ham in the bottom corner.
This poor woman had obviously come to the conclusion that we rejected her piggy
bank idea in case it offended Jews or vegetarians!
Seriously - I don't know whether to laugh, cry or go out for a ham sandwich.