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The Influencers

Who’s in Charge?

INFLUENCER: Jonathan Goldstein tells the story of Doug - a potentially explosive allegory for the client-creative relationship

Who’s in Charge?

Doug crouched down nervously in front of the bomb, a bead of sweat trickling down his forehead. It was hot inside his bomb disposal outfit and it was one of the hottest days in London - a city now poised on the brink of destruction by one of the largest explosive devices in living memory. 

Unluckily for him, Doug was the expert, with an unblemished reputation for unpicking the most complex devices using a combination of skill and an uncanny sixth sense that seemed to foil the most cunning inventions. If there was a bomb to be disposed of, Doug was the man to do it.

He gently unscrewed a panel and peered inside with his torch. He cleared his throat and spoke quietly into his radio: “I’ve examined the wiring... and I am confident that we need to cut the red wire.”. 

Everyone at HQ looked round at each other nervously. Was he right? Of course he was; this was Doug. Time was ticking and now was not the time for a last minute change of direction.

The Chief of Staff replied: “Ok, Doug… you must do what you feel is right… we’re behind you all the way...”

Suddenly, the client appeared at his side: “Er, sorry Chief, did you say he should cut the red wire? Well, look... my new marketing assistant, you know, the one who's just joined us, has had a very quick look at this, on his iPhone, and said he saw it in a movie once, and we should cut the blue wire so… I’d like you to cut the blue wire please.” 

The Chief of Staff blinked furiously and quickly reached for his radio: “Doug, stop! The client says we should cut the blue wire. I’m sorry... I mean, this isn’t the result we wanted and we know you’ve put a lot of effort into this; it’s really appreciated, everyone thinks it’s great, you’re great, and next time we’ll definitely let you decide but, on this occasion, our hands are a bit tied. You know how it is. So, please stand down and send us your invoice; we’ll get it in the system straight away… once the client has paid us. Is that ok? Hello…? Doug…?”


Jonathan Goldstein is creative director and composer at GOLDSTEIN.

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