How much of advertising should be strategy -- the left brain part, and how much should be imagination -- the right brain part?
In a perfect world creative directors would never have to face this issue. Every brief would contain a glorious strategy and every execution would be brilliant. I am sad to report, however, that the world is not yet perfect.
Way over on the left brain side of the argument we have the strategy slaves (see point 2 here.) These are the people who think advertising is all logic, and the soundest argument wins. They want to turn every ad into a court case.
Way over on the right brain side we have the overfed art students who think the average consumer gives a shit about how cutting edge their ads are.
So what's the answer?
My advice is this. If you are the lucky receiver of a brilliant strategy, you have little to fear. Brilliant strategies often suggest brilliant ideas. But even if you can't develop a great creative idea, a terrific strategy gives you the freedom to just be clear.
Sadly, the chances of you being presented with a brilliant strategy are slim. 97.48% of ad strategies are actually absence of strategy. They are cleverly disguised derivatives of one of these non-strategies:
a) Quality and valueIf you do not have the benefit of a brilliant strategy, your only weapon is creativity.
b) We're young and cool
c) We're just like you!
Err on the side of imagination. Don't be a slave to a mediocre brief. Interpret it loosely. Let the strategy breathe.