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Dan Johnson writes:

I recall sitting in the boardroom of a major ad agency one Saturday morning with the MD discussing a raft of creative ideas that had been produced the week before for a pitch we were working on.

We were looking at the work of an individual who was prolific in their production of ideas.

As we went through the work the MD commented: “The problem with Joe (not real name), is that some of their ideas are really good, they just don’t know which one’s”

Basically being creative is not enough, you need to have the ability to recognise the ideas that work and that will deliver against the clients expectations, creativity for the sake of it belongs in the art galleries… and perhaps the award ceremonies.

Everyone should of course strive to produce the best creative they can, it will in the end help achieve stand out which is what any brand or client ultimately wants, but if the creative is getting in the way of the audience understanding the communication or the messages then it will fail to deliver the results.

It is a balancing act, one that has been played out many times in agency boardrooms between the creatives and the account handlers.

Creativity should of course begin with the brain in total free mode, this way the ideas can flow without restriction, however once the ideas are on the page, creatives need to be able to revisit their output and by using a more discerning eye, see which one’s fit the brief and which one’s can be developed, there is no room for being precious. Then it’s on to the account handlers to see how they stack up against the overall strategy.

I have seen many great ideas thrown out, not because they where bad, on the contrary many where first rate, but because they where basically ‘one ad’ ideas ie. they could not be successfully campaigned across all the deliverable media.

Similarly account handlers need to be able to understand creative work, to occasionally go with something that may not be what they want or where expecting but, because the creatives put forward a convincing case, they will present and support with conviction.

Getting this balance right has never been more important, with social media, agencies and clients have very little or no control over their marketing once it has been launched. Twenty years ago if an ad was failing, or worse still delivering the wrong message, then it could be cancelled and replaced. Today ads go viral in seconds and even if cancelled from the TV schedules, they can run for years around social media.

In the end it’s not about compromise it’s about common sense and understanding why the agency is there in the first place; delivering results to the clients.


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