Van Halen, Brown M&M’s and a Money-Saving Outsourcing Tip

One of my favourite type of rock music is proper stadium rock music. The kind of music perpetrated by hair bands such as Aerosmith, Motley Crue, AC/DC and Kiss that can only be played in huge stadiums. These stadiums invariably sell out, the bands make a fortune, and the media spread rumours of the extravagance these bands underwent.

Van Halen’s Brown M&M’s Phobia

Van Halen’s story is probably the most famous. Van Halen’s demands included a bowl of M&M’s with the brown ones removed. Should one brown M&M be found, then the band would often cancel the show without any notice. The media circulated this fact as the extravagance nature of these bands, but there was a good reason to this clause in the contract, which was often buried deep within the contract.

The contract was a large weighty document that also contained the precise technical specifications on how to set up all the gear that Van Halen brought to the shows (often in up to nineteen trucks in length). Van Halen insisted on the technical specifications to be met because if one thing was out, it could fail, or collapse, causing injury to them or the fans. If brown M&M’s were present in the dressing room, then this could mean that other – more important – details could be incorrect. This was breach of contract and the gig would be unsafe, leading to Van Halen cancel. Not so extravagant, is it?

How You Can Use This Methodology To Outsourcing?

When you begin outsourcing, you want somebody working with you who will follow your instructions. Often when you tender for work, you’ll get plenty of people who have three issues:-

  • There is an issue with language which means details will not be understood.
  • They are larger agencies that will often spam work with generic text.
  • They are simply lazy that will do the barest minimum for the work.

A way to try and eliminate these time-wasters are to put meaningless phrases in the tender. You can find these, and you can be creative or as outlandish as you want. Often these are the best! Here’s some of my favourites:-

  • The third paragraph must be a haiku.
  • You must end every sentence with the word “Bazinga!”.
  • (My Personal Favourite, as I’m an egotistical little shit) You must address me in the brief as “Commander Zorg of the Interstellar Nebula”.

You shouldn’t specify this more than a bullet point, and don’t say that pitches that ignore this will be binned, but do. If they can’t follow a simple instruction, what makes you think they’ll follow more important instructions?

I’ve used this technique before when outsourcing, and it’s fun. Try it yourself!