Clients want all sorts of things. And sometimes it's the stuff of nightmares. We compile just what kind of outrageous, baffling and downright weird questions some leading design agencies and freelancers have to answer
We often ask our interviewees about the weirdest requests they've received from clients. We've now compiled 15 of the best ones, which you can read below. Some might not be the most outrageous ones you've ever come across but they're still pretty out there and sure to have caused some headaches and stunned faces.
1. Infiltrate the Ivy League!
"I remember one client in particular. He wanted us to fly out to various Ivy League schools, pretend to be students and then throw these huge, massive frat parties in order to promote their app to drunk people. We told him we'd consider it."
Q Manning of Rocksauce
2. Bail me out!
"We have had to create a contingency line-item for bail money on a project, and have been asked by a large government agency to help develop a concept for interstellar flight."
Michael Ventura of Sub Rosa
3. Hang out with llamas!
"We once had a client ask us to spend a weekend at an academic retreat on a llama ranch. Yeah, we went. They tried to get me to hug a tree."
Mike Monteiro of Mule
4. Apologise. Now.
"There was one famous Japanese car manufacturer that asked us to build a game called 'I make you come'. And another Japanese client that asked us to visit their offices to apologise for the project not running well on one of their low spec computers."
Vassilios Alexiou of Less Rain
5. Meet my daughter!
"We had a response to some initial designs: “I like what you’ve done, but is it fully Web 2.0 compliant?” I just replied, “Yes!” But the most bizarre response to one of my design presentations was when the client calmly looked up from the designs, asked if I was single and if I’d like to meet her daughter. I politely declined, but I’d like to think it was a compliment to my work.
Andrew Machin of Branded3
6. How much for the Southwest Airlines site?
"Client: 'How much did the Southwest Airlines site cost?' Me: 'We didn’t build it so I’m not sure.' Client: 'I know you didn’t build it, but you build websites right … so, how much did it cost?'"
Evan Owens, director of consulting at Centresource
7. Make it glossy black!
"At a previous agency I was asked to make a piece of work ‘glossy black’ – the glossy black they saw in the office on my new Mac monitor – because it was too matt on their screen."
Laura Jordan Bambach, executive creative director at LBi London
8. Make it more Manga!
"Can you make this a bit more Manga please? The client was Daniel Bedingfield – remember him?"
Flo Heiss, creative partner at Dare
9. I want a nodding dog!
"A very famous computer manufacturer back in 2000 asked for an animated GIF (remember them?) of a nodding dog. I kid you not. We had to take a picture of a three-legged retriever, comp in a leg and then nod its head. For the director’s cut, we beheaded it at the end."
Simon Gill, also executive creative director at LBi London
10. I just want the sketches!
"We once had a client who fell so head over heels in love with our sketches of his icons that he asked us to render them exactly as they were in the sketches. Surprisingly, he wanted us to keep all the pencil-like lines and watercolour brush strokes that were in the vector. That was even after we'd rendered the icons in fancy chrome with a 3D look!"
Dmitry Tsozik, creative director at SoftFacade
11. Use the code word!
"The manager of a very high-profile celebrity asked us to come up with a ‘code word’. She wanted to use it when her client was in the room to tip us off that we should do the opposite of what the celebrity was asking us to do. Coincidentally, this kicked off our ‘stop working with celebrities’ phase. Except for Brian Regan – he’s awesome."
Brian Williams, CEO of Viget Labs
12. Get rid of the sheep poo!
"While building the Shaun the Sheep microsite for Disney US, they specifically requested we edit out the plasticine sheep poo from the farmyard scene."
Robin Davey, Flash animator at Aardman Digital
13. I want an animated tornado!
"Can you make the animation go outside of the browser? And have an animated tornado come in from offscreen, blowing icons all around, and then land on the site."
Arlo Jamrong and Michael Eades, senior developers at KNI
14. Design me in a bubble bath with my dogs!
"The majority if not all bizarre requests come from our eccentric music clients. It's not uncommon to get off a conference call only to have to sit down and design the client taking a bubble bath with their dogs, a talking dolphin wearing a headset named Bubbles and an illustration of a penis with glimpses of Richard Simmons. Always great conversation pieces!"
Jeff Toll, creative director at BKWLD
15. I want a monkey with its tail on fire!
"Shortly after the Firefox logo launched, I had a lot of requests for animal logos. The best one was for ‘Burning Monkey Software’, who wanted a (wait for it) monkey with its tail on fire, wrapped around a CD. I politely declined!"
Jon Hicks, one half of Hicksdesign
So, now we want to hear from you! What were the weirdest requests you've ever received from clients? Let us know in the comments!