Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday Tip No.26 - Reject Rejection

Chumbawamba. They sang: "I get knocked down, but I get up again."

A Creative Director was asked to train some Account Handlers. He had them spend the morning making a model airplane. Then at lunchtime he reviewed their work. He took each plane in his hand and crushed it to pieces. "That," he said, "is what it feels like to be a Creative."

This story probably isn't true, but it does illustrate one of the harder aspects of our job - daily rejection of our work.

There is no way around this problem, only better ways of dealing with it.

Here are 10 tips you might try. If one of them works for you, great. None of them work for me. I still get pissed as hell.

1. Our work is often autobiographical, so we take rejection of our work as rejection of ourselves. But this is bullshit. The team/client have no clue of your autobiographical inspiration, they're purely rejecting the pieces of paper they see in front of them. You're a valid person! It's just the work they have a problem with.

2. After each negative meeting or review, ensure you have some time alone with your partner to curse the account team/ client/ creative director to high heaven. Don't feel bad about doing this. It's essential.

3. After the slagging-off session, do not be tempted to begin a sulking session. Slagging-off clears your head. Like a sorbet. But sulking is bad, because you can get sucked down into a negative spiral. So don't sulk. Rant, clear your head, then get back to work. If you sulk, the terrorists win.

4. Okay, so they've said no to your idea. Bring it back later, when they're desperate...

5. Okay, so they've said no to your idea. But did they reject the whole thing, or is there one bit of it you can salvage?

6. Tell a trusted friend the idea. If the friend doesn't think it's much cop, then you realise you haven't lost much anyway. If the friend thinks it was brilliant, then you will get a lot of sympathy from him.

7. Focus on what you've learned from the rejection. So your CD was once bitten by an orang-utang and will not countenance any primate-based TV ads. That's a good learning.

8. It was a shit brief anyway. Now your work has been rejected they'll put another team on it. Great news! You're off the hook.

9. Remember, you can only be happy if the world recognises your genius. An ad that doesn't get bought, can never be recognised as genius. You need an ad that DOES get bought. Only that can make you happy. Or a little less unhappy, at least. So stop snivelling and get back to the layout pad.

10. Put your rejected work in the bottom drawer. A good idea never dies. It just sits there in limbo, like a soul waiting for the right body.

Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish


Anonymous said...

thanks. a bit like being rejected by a woman you like. actually it's not really. could you do a 'how to present your idea' tip sometime? thanks

Scamp said...

I'm not a performing pony, you know

Lunar BBDO said...

Expect rejection, no matter how rarely it happens, then you'll be delighted when it doesn't but not so peed when it does.

And a nice, juicy pipe of crack to help soothe the pain away is a sure-fire winner.

Anonymous said...

A couple of us at Lunar BBDO used to work for a Creative Director who would get graduate Account Handlers to make a model of the Cutty Sark over a weekend and then one by one smash them in to tiny bits on monday morning to prove the same point.
So I think the story is true, but using a maritime theme instead.

Alan Wolk said...

Somehow it always stings me more when the brilliant idea is rejected internally, rather than by the client.

I mean clients are supposed to be thick, right? But your creative director was supposed to "get it."

"Gang Bangs" (where the whole agency works on one project, literally two dozen teams or more-- not sure if you call it the same thing in the UK) are particularly depressing too because there's the whole politics thing in there-- did your campaign get rejected because they needed a campaign from Creative Group B and they already had one from yours-- plus all the repulsive jockeying that goes on.

@anonymous #1 & Scamp: Presentation is a real art. There was an AD I used to work with. He'd present spots and have everyone rolling on the floor. I'd repeat them to some of my friends a few hours later and they'd be "why is that funny" - I always blamed myself for not doing it justice, but truth is, the AD in question could read the telephone book out loud and have people laughing.

And at some places, that's all you need.

Anonymous said...

i've never agreed with this "get used to rejection" thinking. you'd be expecting failure 50% of the time. that's insanity. and no way to live.

instead, hone yourself into an advertising missile that never fails to hit its target. you'll be a lot happier!

Anonymous said...

Toad, it's such a relief someone in America is keeping alive our legendary fame as clowns.

Uncle Scamp, I know you're not necessarily keen on presenting ideas but maybe you could have a guest blogger writing about it, uh? Sir Hegarty and the Flat Eric story maybe?

Anonymous said...

presentation is the key. if you have more energy and certainty that you're right, you'll win. the energetic displaces the passive etc.

of course if you're dealing with pussy marketers who abdicate decision-making to testing you never stand a chance to begin with.

Anonymous said...

I'd add...

11. They rejected the execution. but not your Idea. The battle was lost, but the war ain't over.

Anonymous said...

In America creatives are far more confident about presenting their ideas. They have an inbuilt self belief and outward impression that even their (mostly) crap ideas are "totally awesome". In the Uk creatives tend to pass a few scraps of paper across the desk and stare at their trainers while the CD reads in silence

Anonymous said...

12. They threw the Idea baby out with the Executional bath water. Tell your planner that if they can't help articulate the idea and why it's right for clients, not to bother coming to creative presentations.

Anonymous said...

13. It was a self-evidently brilliant idea. To all except the twat clients who rejected it. Fuck 'em. They don't deserve it. Find a different client/brand for whom you can repurpose your idea.

RFB said...

A good idea, or "art" is what I, the creative, say it is. End of story in my perfect world.

Or maybe it's what your CD feels like the morning after he/she polished off a big bottle of wine, got into a fight with his/her spouse. "Your idea is bad. Go away and give me more."

There should be a mini-series: Where Egos Clash

Nice post, Scamp. But like you, I still get pissed.

Anonymous said...

just got rejected today and another shit team is hijacking the campaign. Shit. How do people live through it????