Speak UpA Former Division of UnderConsideration
The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
advertise @ underconsideration
---Click here for full archive list or browse below
Making Chicken Liver Smell Like Peppermint

Because designers frequently work as outside consultants, they’ll inevitably find themselves handling some truly bizarre clientele from time to time—sometimes its just the nature of the people, other times its the nature of their business. Despite how we might perceive reality, few designers will exclusively work on MTV, Nike, Apple, Starbucks, or any of the other glam accounts, because the economy keeps on running because of many, many different types of corporations. And that means weird businesses and sometimes, weird people.

For instance, a few weeks ago I was asked to help develop an identity for a biotech company. But not just any biotech company. Oh no. This organization (which was chosen by Pat Summerall—you remember him—for one of his “Captains of Industry” late-nite TV profiles) makes pet food flavorizers. I had been warned about the smell of the office, but heading up to the meeting…well, open up a bag of Purina Dog Chow, stick your head in it for an hour, and there you go.

But they’re pretty sharp with technology. They can make any sort of animal product taste like or smell like anything…for us, well, we got the “chicken liver suddenly smelling like peppermint” demonstration.

That was the oddest thing I’ve worked on yet, myself. What are some of your odd assignments and clients? Or even strange requests?

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Oct.01.2003 BY bradley
big steve’s comment is:

I'm more of a photographer than a designer (though i dabble...) and if you walk around los angeles with a nice camera, you'll inevitably get a number of requests to do headshots...

So, I was shooting a restuarant for a magazine review last week and, not suprisingly, both of the waitresses at the spot were aspiring actresses. And both were interested in headshots - but evidentally one of the girls did adult film work, and also wanted tail shots (the peaches & the cream). I guess it makes sense, but seems kinda funny.

I'm still thinking about calling her back...

On Oct.01.2003 at 05:26 AM
Jeff’s comment is:

I'm doing some work right now for the UK's "leading own label out of home tissue supplier" (i.e. restaurant toilet paper).

They are quite proud of their knowlege of said paper. One of the "concepts" for a trade advert that I dabbled with and rejected after a couple minutes started with Da Vinci's Vitruvian man and ended like this "...but not as clever as what we do with paper."

Back to the drawing board.

On Oct.01.2003 at 06:32 AM
Nathaniel’s comment is:

Yesterday for me was spent animating a cartoon version of Ben Franklin in Flash for my office's children's site. Yesterday's animation was of good ol' Ben taking a running start in stocking feet and sliding across the screen, ala Tom Cruise in Risky Business. While not as far-out as some of the other things so far, and certainly not as strange as I'm sure some of the comments are to come, I've been pretty amused by the whole thing.

On Oct.01.2003 at 07:22 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Buttter, not any kind though: Whipped Butter. Cool client really. Those headlines we have there, they were going to be more racy... perhaps too racy for butter.

On Oct.01.2003 at 08:30 AM
brent’s comment is:

I did a coroporate brochure for a steel wool manufacturer once. It wasn't all that strange except that I found out there are 400+ types of steel wool.

On Oct.01.2003 at 08:36 AM
stacey’s comment is:

I worked for an agricultural biotech and had to design a logo for both sperm and tomato mold, albeit not together.

On Oct.01.2003 at 08:40 AM
Sao_Bento’s comment is:

The thing I like about being a designer is that you always get to learn something new. We did some stuff for a company called Warner-Jenkins, who is the worlds leading manufacturer of food coloring. I got to learn all the inside info, like Red #5 is actually a yellow color. It was named red to throw off the competitions corporate espionage agents.

On Oct.01.2003 at 11:12 AM
kevin steele’s comment is:

We were once asked (c1993) to develop the computer front end for an ultrasound simulator. The client had built a robotic feedback device that was suppose to feel like operating the device, to be used to train medical personal. It was sort of like they had the steering wheel interface and wanted us to create a driving game... This same client also asked us to design a golf scorekeeping application for Newton devices. of note, the client group consisted of three guys named Dave. Since my partner is named Dave, at least once I was in a meeting with myself and four Daves.

On Oct.01.2003 at 11:16 AM
Tan’s comment is:

I've done my fair share of biotech clients.

One client makes a device that measures bone loss from urine. So I've had to design sub-brand identities w/ the work "urine" in it. I've also done a number of product photoshoots for them where we've had to fake urine in a flask or beaker. Yellow food color usually works. But the thought is still gross.

I had another biotech clients that sold scary-looking probe-y type medical equipment. I'd go on shoots of latex glove, bunny suits, and stuff like that.

And foodwise, I'm working with a large beef jerky manufacturer. Meat snacks as they call it. Everytime we go there for a meeting, I come back with a basket or armful of beef jerky samples. The funny thing is that none of them find what they do to be peculiar in any way. We just had to design a page on their website for "Jerky Stories" -- a collection of submitted stories from customers who've had a good experience involving beef jerky and want to share. The idea is just so stupid it's priceless.

Mmm, and I once did an identity for a huge commercial fishing company -- with ships the size of cruiseliners. These ships catch, process, and package 2 tons of fish at a time, and they typically fish the Bering Sea for 5 months at a time. We toured one of their ships, and the smell was just overpowering. It was also a terrifying, sobering look into the life of a commercial fisherman. I'm a hearty sport fisherman myself, but let's just say that I'd rather go to prison than be forced to work on a fishing ship in the Bering sea. It's that bad.

On Oct.01.2003 at 04:49 PM
Tan’s comment is:

"word', not work.

On Oct.01.2003 at 04:50 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Tan, your beef jerky client tops all! It will always make me laugh.

On Oct.01.2003 at 05:13 PM
Tan’s comment is:

hahaha....my beloved beef jerky client is one of those that you endure just for the stories.

we should get together and have some jerky in danish butter. mmmm.....

On Oct.01.2003 at 06:21 PM
corey’s comment is:

I used to work for Frankfurt Balkind, and while there I ran into many strange client requests.

My favorite is from SystemLogic. They are a division of US Web and were sort of franchised out, so different SystemLogics were run by different people in different cities and never really talked to each other, nor did they necessarily pool resources.

Anyhow, one of the SystemLogic branch offices hired FB to design and code their office's website. To this day, I find it very strange that a company that specializes in web design and development could not design nor implement their own website. It would be like being hired by Chiat Day to rebrand Chiat Day.

Plus, they were a bunch of merchants, so they hired us at a reduced rate because it was a legacy job (handed down by a verbal agreement from an account exec on her way out), so the entire site was to run something like $15k. I'm fuzzy on the exact number but it was something around that. Anyhow, we designed a website based on explaining what SystemLogic can do for you, what sort of services they provide. So the splash page was a nicely set bit of sans serif type, asking a question that after being clicked would explain how SystemLogic solved the problem for the company in question (a mini case study as an intro). There was a giant question mark at the end of the sentence that would serve as a window to show a graphic element that related to the story we were telling (e.g. a picture of a herd of wildebeasts to explain a data asset management software program they wrote for Disney for the Lion King movie). So we are at the clients, and show them the first page in the presentation, which is the splash page, and before we could explain what the idea was one of the guys looked at the page and said "Great, a 15 thousand dollar question mark, you guys rock!" and walked out of the meeting.

Sadly, that was not the strangest thing I've seen in a meeting at Frankfurt Balkind.

On Oct.01.2003 at 07:04 PM
kia’s comment is:

I designed trade show booths for porn trade shows once.

It wasn't so much the design work that was odd, it was the actual convention. There are some strange rangers out there in pornland. I did get a signed Jenna Jameson poster out of the deal though.

On Oct.04.2003 at 12:41 AM
Ginny ’s comment is:

My boyfriend is a copywriter. He once had to write ad headlines for a tongue scraper. I've never heard of a tongue scraper before he had this client. He learned more about the "oral" world (insert joke here) than he ever imagined.

handy tip: if you leave your toothbrush on the counter...don't. They did some sort of "microscopic" study with how far toilet spray travels once flushed....

On Oct.07.2003 at 01:18 PM