Why We Compromise
Author’s note: Upon completion of this story, I’ve realized that its contents are nothing new to those of us who are already in the industry – those who would benefit from it are the students and the juniors. This is the big, bad, awesome advertising world.
Imagine an ad:
Produced by a major advertising agency, shot by a prestigious photography studio – a promising start isn’t it?
While passing by one of those ads on the street, my friend and I both duly noted how it was…lacking. An hour later we got into a debate:
How did this happen – whose fault is it that these two talented groups of people were incapable of producing a better campaign?
Who dropped the ball?
As young and hungry creatives we break through walls into this industry, imagining a glamourous creative life where we all sit around in circles coming up with great ideas. The sitting around fantasy is often followed by drinks and shiny awards for the previously mentioned great ideas.
All of this is true.
Creative process does consist of sitting around (standing/lying on the floor/climbing windows/playing ping-pong) and talking nonsense. Yes, the drinking often becomes necessary. The awards, as I’m sure you know, are subjective – they depend on the quality of the said great ideas and the grandness of the executions.
But there is more where that came from.
Between you and the billboard (print/TV/app/subway platform) is a client.
Before your imagination runs wild, I would like to make it clear that the client is not the Big Bad Wolf eating the Little Red Riding Hood from the toes up. The client is that entity that is giving you an opportunity – the building blocks. People to play with and, most importantly, money to spend.
Just as the client is always right, the bank always knows best.
No matter how great your idea is, if the client does not agree then it will fall back into the deep, dark corner where the rest of the great ideas spend their nights crying.
“But isn’t it our job to come up with the most creative solution to their problem?” you ask.
“Isn’t the advertising world full of Don Draper types convincing the client about the true power of the idea, thus selling it through?” you wonder.
But the world is a sandbox.
If they don’t want to play with you, then they’ll leave the playground.
After you’ve presented six different ideas, gone through six rounds of revisions on the chosen one, and the client is still being uneasy comes the time to find a compromise.
This does not mean that the agency didn’t do a good job of solving the problem. It just means that the agency and the client are not on the same page. In many cases it means that the client does not fully understand the target market and therefore does not understand the idea. This is when it’s time to pull up the big boy pants and come up with a solution that makes the client happy – and one that does not make you want to cry yourself to sleep.
The compromise is never as good as the big idea. But there are other opportunities out there – those that will allow you to use all 96 crayons in the box.
So when your first idea goes to die, shrug your shoulders, have a pint, and move on.
There is always another end of the rainbow.
- by AWSC
- posted at 4:29 pm
- April 16, 2012