Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's Christmas!

Happy festival of capitalism, everybody!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Of Course You Can Crack Any Brief. But What If There's Two?

Sometimes, the agency brief is not the only brief. Sometimes, the client writes their own brief first. And then the agency writes a brief based on that (called a 'reverse brief').

This system, quite frankly, sucks balls.

Because when you have two briefs, the potential for confusion is immense.
I remember one occasion at a previous agency, when the most senior client had a strong view on what their next ad should be about. This was translated by their team into a client brief. Which was then translated by our team into a reverse brief. The proposition our creatives got was 'fun'. We duly wrote ads to fun. But when the work got back to the senior client, it had apparently wildly diverged from what was wanted - they had asked for ads about 'great service.'

Again I quote Mark Fitzloff, Global ECD of W&K, who said in a recent panel discussion: "Everyone between the CD and the most senior client is playing a game of telephone." ('Telephone' in some countries is called 'Chinese Whispers'). At first I thought this was a tad arrogant. But maybe he's right...

Having a great strategy is a great advantage in the creation of advertising. But even the best strategy will be unhelpful if it's one of two.

Maybe we have to accept that sometimes the client has their brief, and that's what they want answered. Planning was invented in an age when clients walked in with a product and not much else. It was up to the agency to decide how to sell that product. Nowadays, the client often has their own insights manager, has done their own research, and has their own view on what they want to say. What they want the agency to do, is to say that well. Not write another brief.  

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Worst Brief In The World the agency Christmas card.

Why? Well there are plenty of briefs on which creatives complain "everything's been done."

But in the case of the agency Christmas card, that might just be true.

You can see a mahoosive collection of them here and here.

So what to do?

Well, obviously it has to be something digital. You don't want to imply that your agency is a stegasaurus.

Though the irony is that although it's the most 'instant' medium, anything digital actually takes longer to make. And is often expensive.

Over the years, Mother London have probably produced the most interesting examples. The one that still sticks in my mind is this video, in which Mary and Joseph are depicted as modern-day asylum seekers, and get turned away by every hotel in London.

But that was 10 years ago.

I wonder if, by now, 'digi-card fatigue' is setting in.

Will clients and rivals truly be wowed by "a Christmas gif for you" turning up in their inbox? Or will they simply press 'delete'?

Uber-planner Russell Davies writes in his Campaign column this week: "Don’t do an agency Christmas card... no-one wants a Christmas wish from a corporation."

And he might have a point.

Especially when you consider that, for the same cost as that self-indulgent e-card, you could send every client a bottle of champagne.

I know which I'd rather get...

Sunday, December 01, 2013

What's Bigger, Your Ego Or Your Insecurity?

Last week I bought 2,000 Twitter followers.

It only cost me $5, via, and now my mundane Twitterings are reaching two thousand more individuals than they did before. Largely in Bangladesh, I gather.

I'm not quite sure why I did it, but if pushed, I would have to say it was either ego or insecurity. 

Having insecurity means worrying that everything you do is shit, or meaningless, or both. Having ego means other people think you're a dick.

Creatives are regularly slammed for being egotistical. We're told that we shouldn't think of ourselves as the most important people in the agency, and that it's wrong to believe that all of one's ideas are brilliant.

But conversely, we are also viewed as insecure. People accuse us of getting overly defensive when our work is criticised. We also exhibit other insecure traits, such as envy, and a constant need for validation in the form of awards.

Is it possible to be both egotistical and insecure at the same time?

I guess it must be.

One of John Lennon's biographers, Larry Kane, wrote: “People would be surprised at how insecure he was, and his lack of self-esteem. Throughout his life, even during the height of Beatlemania, he had poor self-esteem, even though he exuded confidence.”

Another point: Insecurity is only a problem for those who have it, whereas Ego affects everyone around them. Maybe that's why the phrase "Creative insecurity" returns 7.1 million Google results (in just 0.27 seconds!) whereas "Creative ego" gets a whopping 50 million. 

I don't know. For us, it's a simple cause-and-effect, isn't it? We have the urge to be creative, but because what we create is out there for all to see, we feel insecure about whether anyone will like it - and in fact people are queuing up to tell us what's wrong with it. Therefore, we are forced to develop an ego, just to survive until Friday.

Does that describe you?