Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pick battles, not your nose.

Recently, I had a chance to sit down with a Creative Director (unnamed here) over beer(s). We chatted about my work, his work, work we liked and work we hated.

Lager went down easy, and talk turned to the balance between advertising efficacy and creativity. Now, I agree that every ad should blend these two elements seamlessly, but when you're cranking out dozens of projects a month of various sizes and intents, I think it's more important than ever to keep in mind when and where the idea must be pushed, and when we simply need to get the sales message out in plain language.

Yes, we need to move product--if we didn't, we'd all be artists instead of "creatives". However, for every time there's a client telling you to quit trying to make an Opus out of a banner ad, recall this: advertising is public art. We are in charge of bringing interest to economics.

That said, here are my top five signs of a battle worth picking:

5. You're creating a campaign for a homogeneous product or service. Gas; beer; plumbing; etc. Unless the client has an actual defined Unique Selling Proposition, what else is gonna make the ad stand out other than the creative? What are you gonna do, try and tell me yours is the coldest beer on the market? Waitaminute, Coors tried that. Geezus.

4. You're bored.
Boredom usually means you've given up. Boredom leads to laziness; laziness leads to failing at life. Look at your desk; what's on it now? Pick a project, and work it like your job depends on it. These days, it just might.

3. You get a vague brief.
This usually means the client wants you to (or needs you to) take control. It's your job to be the most exciting part of their entire day. That's right, you need to be exciting. Remember? That's why you got into this business in the first place.

2. It's the client's most hated project.
You know the one. It sits there at the veeeery bottom of your Status Report like that last random drunk guy at your house party. He's too old to be there, you didn't invite him and he smells. Can't put lipstick on a pig, you say? Just watch me.

1. No reason at all. These days, you really don't need a reason to be better than you ever thought you could be. Why? Because our business is fundamentally changed, and you better pick up your crap and get a move on. Yeah, you may still have that nice fat account, or cushy gig now, but there are a lot of hungry people out there, and we're willing to do whatever it takes to earn what you've gotten accustomed to having.

On that note, maybe you should just stick with "good enough". Yeah... relax--everything's cool.

Why not head out for some Chocolate Martinis or something?

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