Terence is a very dear friend and a fantastic advertising creative. ‘Ad Verbatim’ is a series by his visionary mind.
I see you’ve got your helmet on today. Hush, don’t worry I haven’t seen a thing. And you haven’t seen my ballerina pose either. I’m not into ultra-feminine oomph and no one’s trying to win a Thai beauty pageant. I’m just straddling the fine line of a creative dilemma and that thing on my head is a grecian sword. I know it’s made in China, but so’s your helmet. How else would you deal with a brief that is a. non-existent and b. evolving ?
They tell you what they want from the noncommittal armchair and then change what they didn’t tell you when you do respond. C’est la vie ? Vie sucks. And mine’s a leech larger than life with a pharynx parched enough to paraphrase Coca-Cola.
Thought precedes word and word precedes action. And in marketing and advertising, like everything else in life, the givens precede thought. The givens are never constant and that in itself is the larger given. That said, why does thought have to evolve midway through an action? And it does in our teensy weensy advertising world with a frequency that would put gamma rays in the shade. So prolific is this phenomenon, it’s common to find account executives and brand managers obliviously traipsing after each others’ tails and yet wondering why it’s impossible to get a campaign to walk in a straight line. I accept the importance of pleasing the powerful posterior to which ones lips are glued but surely not at the expense of crucifying the campaign objective.
Kill the sugar mill. Brilliance is in boiling your brief down to a lozenge. Say one thing and you will be understood and remembered. Say two and you’re expecting too much. We’re so in love with our USPs we’re into eulogies. Cremate the urge to cram the communication with every new insight that pops up on the opportunity horizon. If you draw the line, remember you’re being paid to do so.
Lines must be drawn somewhere. And when it is, that is your set of givens on which you base your strategy and action thereof. Erasing the line and drawing a new one invites lost hours. Take your time before drawing one and draw it when you’re dead sure. Even in our neck of the corporate woods, people are paid big bucks to have this sense of clarity and to take responsibility for what they see. They are the hubs of wisdom and intelligence on which advertising action is based. This isn’t news to marketing circles anywhere. In fact, it’s often the bad news that goads us all into playing the game of passing the sword.
So what does a lesser mortal do when one is done with the Comaneci act. You carefully dismantle the dagger, persuade it into a pretty box and parcel it back. When the box is opened, voila ! Moths fly out like butterflies, dim bulbs flash in unison, the consumer gets a nagging sense of deja vu and absolutely no one wonders why some brands even bother to advertise. And the buck hah! Like your conscience, it’s spent.
The moral my dear Aesop, is that the waiter shouldn’t blame the cook if the guest goes into anaphylactic shock. Just ask the guest if he’s allergic to peanuts. My word, is this a soup I see before me?