April 07, 2011

Let The Strategy Breathe

One of the eternal problems for agency creative directors is the question of strategy versus execution.

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 value
b) We're young and cool
c) We're just like you!
If you do not  have the benefit of a brilliant strategy, your only weapon is creativity.

Err on the side of imagination. Don't be a slave to a mediocre brief. Interpret it loosely. Let the strategy breathe.

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