June 03, 2008

The Tyranny of Strategy

Advertising strategies are not handed down by God.

They are written by planners, researchers, account execs, clients and other mildly retarded mortals.

You only have to turn on the tv to notice that these people often get it wrong.

Meanwhile, good creative people sometimes have a better feel for the problem than the committee that wrote the strategy. It is not unheard of for them to develop -- unknowingly -- a strategy that is better than the one you approved.

If you are a creative director, account manager, client-side ad manager or marketing director, you really need to keep this in mind when evaluating creative work.

It’s not enough to say "this is off strategy". You must also ask yourself, "is this a better strategy than the one we have?"

If the answer is yes, you’re going to have a lousy week. You have to go back and un-sell a strategy that has probably taken months to develop; has been up and down the organization; and has lots of (probably irrelevant) research behind it. All because some pain-in-the-ass copywriter or art director -- at the end of the process -- sees the problem a little more clearly than you did at the beginning.

Somehow, you have to convince a whole bunch of people that the thinking they’ve been doing for the past few months is wrong.

Sound tough? That’s why you get the big bucks, baby.

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