August 21, 2009

Clients Ask All The Wrong Questions

The Ad Contrarian will return from vacation Monday. Here's a post from last March.

Any agency person who's ever participated in a new business pitch has been asked this question: "What is the process you use to develop advertising ideas?"

Any agency person with an ounce of integrity has answered thusly: "Schmuck, there is no process."

In other words, no agency person has ever answered that way.

There may be a process for developing a strategy; there may be a process for developing a media plan; but there is no process for giving birth to an idea.

There never has been and there never will be.

Nonetheless, when asked the question, the agency usually trots out a chart with arrows and boxes and buckets and silos and feedback loops and checkpoints and all manner of obfuscatory baloney.

The chart usually has a very pompous sounding title, like "Developmental Matrix" and it shows how through consumer ethnographic analysis the idea starts as a small spark of insight and then by some highly evolved system it's inflated into a grand unifying concept.

In other words, a full 7-course bullshit banquet.

How it really happens is like this: a writer and art director are locked in a cage. A creative director opens the cage door just wide enough to throw in 5 pounds of briefing documents, memos, research reports, and old ads. He slams the door, yells "I need this shit by Thursday, and it better be fucking good" and runs off to lunch with his assistant.

How do you like the process now, amigo?

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