Friday, May 11, 2007

My Adventures with "Ginger"

I know, I know. I've not been very faithful in either writing or reading blogs lately. I've been busy, doing the Children's Festival, and the Farmers' Market started, and...

Ah, you don't want to read the boring stuff. You're here for the absurd.

I found the Children's Festival a new sponsor this year -- a nice, tasty bundle of money, and some volunteer t-shirts. Our contract with them states that we will have final approval on the t-shirt design, and they would have an activity tent on our field where they could, discreetly, hand out their brochure to interested adults.

Now, this is an Arts festival. The marriage of Commerce to the Arts has always been sketchy, but this company wants to recruit staff, and their product is perfectly suited to doing something fun & educational for the kiddies -- an ideal way to showcase themselves.

Now, I'm dealing with the big man's executive assistant, who we will call "Ginger". She asks for our logo, and off she goes -- getting the t-shirt designed. First design: 'volunteer' on the sleeves, and a big "We're Hiring" on the back.

Uh, no. "Put your logo on the sleeve," I suggest, because that's what's usually done. "Oh, that's too expensive," says Ginger ("Oh," I think to myself, "now she thinks I'm stoopid.") "so we'll do this."
Our company presents

On the back of the t-shirt, under the big word "Volunteer."

Uh, no. I email her back, saying "What are you presenting? The Festival? People will think that's the Festival number. How about this?"

Our Company

"Oh, sorry," Ginger writes back, "the t-shirts just had to go to print. It's done."

I grit my teeth, write an email of official disappointment (stating as obliquely as I can that a publishing company should understand the words "final approval" in a contract), and think "Okay, let's make sure she doesn't screw up their activity on the field."

A month ago, when I first got into contact with Ginger, I sent her a looong email, filled with ideas of how they could use their area of expertise on the activities field, to meaningfully engage the kids, and thus impress and hopefully intrigue the adults. I even titled the email "Your Company's Presence at the Festival" or some such.

THEN, over 3 in-person meetings with Ginger, I gave her these ideas again. Her concern was that the kids wouldn't come in without a contest or something. "Ginger," I said patiently, "This is an Arts festival, we cannot have it turn into a carnival. Why don't you bring in a basketball hoop to draw the kids in, as there's no other sports stuff on the field. BUT, this can't be all you do, because we are an ARTS festival, so you could...."

So yesterday, after the whole t-shirt debacle, I sent her a simple email saying "So, what are your plans for the Activities field?"

Her reply? "Other than the baskeball hoop you suggested?????" [I lie not about the 5 question marks. Oh, how I wish I did!]

So, my question to you, my loyal readers is three-fold:

Is she being deliberately obstructive?

And if she is, is she doing it on her own or with the big boss' approval?

Or, is she really just that stupid?




jess wundrun said...

I had a boss like hers once....(and I don't even know what her boss is like). What I mean is, he would do something stupid and subtly with no overt reference to the actual deed, get me to cover for the missing contract/product/fax (yeah, b4 e-mail).

I'm a little flummoxed by the sports activities w/in the arts concept she seems to be pushing. A few years ago we attended Mexican Fiesta in Milwaukee. A group representing the Mexican Province of Guanajato had a tent where the children painted animal masks (with help from the Guanajatans). No more no less for the children but the masks were beautiful. My daughter's is hanging in her room today. So there was an arts booth in a cultural festival that tends to emphasize food more than art and it was very successful.

Regarding the shirts: You are being too nice. Wait till her boss eats the cost of all the shirts and see how much attention she will start to pay to you. (I mean you're not going to do this with them next year, are you?)

Lori said...

well, they're publish safety-related products -- so as a social responsibility, edu-tainment kind of thing, it was a brilliant combination, on paper. Last year, the festival had another company doing the Family ID program...they're not at the Festival this year, so there was a gap.

Gads. I hope I wasn't terribly mistaken.

archie said...

Oh dear, sounds like she was one of the early firees on "The Apprentice".

Anonymous said...

I guess she doesn't care about the festival as much as you do. As far as her goals are concerned, the point of this exercise is to promote her company.


PJ said...

Perfect cartoon to accompany your post!

Lori said...

Never seen the show, but I can appreciate the reference!

I know that's what she thinks she's doing, but what I've tried to tell her is that if she plans nothing but promoting the business, she'll turn off the people her boss wants to draw in. Any adult taking a child to a children's festival will not be impressed by an organization that makes no attempt to engage children in a meaningful way.

I'd had that cartoon running through my head all day...all I had to do was find it online to add!

a h m a d said...

I think she is inherently stupid. If I were you, I would start CC'ing her boss in my emails. If he is satisfied with her work, then they are true amateurs.

Lori said...

Ahmad, I hear ya! Well, the email I sent to her, after I recovered from the 5 question marks, and ranted to Metro all evening, was a measured response, reminding her of my original emails, our conversations, and asking her how they want their company represented at the Festival. And I cc'd her boss.

I'm too busy now to deal with this shit. I'll let them just show as they show, and if their credibility is shot, that's their problem.

raincoaster said...

You could always email her, cc'ing the boss, saying that you're "worried that your company will suffer by comparison with our previous sponsors. I've analyzed the offerings to attendees so far and here are some suggestions for patches..." and suggest, say, "instead of trashing the t-shirts altogether, which would cost you approx. $86 billion, I suggest that you print up ballcaps with the festival logo on the front and your company name on the back. I've sourced them at...[ use Sunrise Clothing, you can google them, they're awesome] and that would be at a cost of only $X" etc, etc.

She's going to blame any failures on you, but you know that already. And you also know her company is going to look like shit coming out of this. Offering solutions at their expense for the problems they've caused makes you look A) brighter than Ginger, which you are and B) concerned with maintaining a good reputation for that company, which you may or may not be.

I dealt with a LOT of Gingers at Starbucks: she's both dumb and ambitious. And she hates having to deal with you, because she perceives it as taking time away from her "real" job.

michaelpanda said... i have no idea what's wrong with her, but i don't envy you having to deal with her obstinance! (sorry, can't spell).

Good luck! or maybe you can just work around her and go straight to her boss?