One of the most dispiriting aspects of my life as an agency ceative director was working with dim clients.
These people are to be found all over corporate America.
They're not stupid - they often have business degrees from prestigious institutions - but they have no creative sensibility. They can't recognize a good idea and they fall in love with bad ones.
They should never be allowed to make creative decisions but because they have a title, they also have an entitlement.
The problem usually starts with the strategy. Somehow, the arcane process of strategy development delivers to you a brief that is just awful. I remember one in particular.
We were introducing a new fresh pineapple product for Dole Foods. After months of consumer research and analysis I was handed a brief with the following strategic insight: "Dole fresh cut pineapple is better because it's fresh."
It took half a dozen MBAs about three months to come up with that tautology. A mildly intelligent 11-year-old could have probably thought of it over lunch.
Then the creative process begins. Within the first few days you realize that there are about a thousand better ways to approach advertising for this product but you are locked into a deadly strategy that is non-negotiable because apparently it was written by God.
So you do the best you can and a few weeks later you present a few ideas and the client goes ga-ga over one of them. You're a genius. You get back slaps and glowing memos. You cracked it. You're a hero!
And in your heart you know it's a piece of shit.