Ad Verbatim XII

Terence D’Costa is a very dear friend and a top-notch creative in the Himalayas.


Wonder what happens to unborn souls. The souls of the living that experience death without ever being graced by birth. Where do these souls go when someone decides to dump them? Are they meant to be forgotten? Or recycled into new embryos that may or may not see the light of day? I speak for the soul of the unborn idea. The idea that deserved to be but wasn’t. For in the Cimmerian crannies of the advertising world, there are so many.

Every time we react to a brief with a barrage of interesting ideas and scrap all but the very best, I’m sure we’re guilty of at least some degree of foeticide. But that doesn’t hurt a bit for supply seems endless. We don’t think twice when we smother them. Zygotic ideas are just too infinitesimal value-wise. They aren’t quite worth agency time. The ones that really are, are the ones that make better business sense. The ones worth fleshing out. These are the zygotes we build upon to create the little embryos that make it to the presentation. All curled up, ready and tingling to be born. Each genetically empowered with the potential for glory. Waiting to be invested upon or assigned to oblivion. But their fate isn’t always left to the gods. We’re so adept at making sure only the best is born, we deliberately murder the also-rans in broad daylight – in the client’s presence – as honourable sacrifices for the truly outstanding idea. These are the unborn souls I speak for today. You know them just as well as I do. Where do they go?

Far from the shapeless oblivion we’d imagine, the smarter advertising creative reserves a happier lot for them. The happy hunting grounds of recycled ideas. Grope and find yourself a factory reject at half the cost of your brainstorming time. Ideas of every shape, size and fabric. Well, almost. Frayed with age. Obtuse in relevance. But nothing a little spit and polish can’t fix. Unborn ideas are like embryonic stem cells. They grow into what you make of them. What’s more, if your grounds are amply populated, you could chance upon precisely what the doctor ordered. Embroider in a new logo and it smells just as sweet. Art makes purgatory, paradise.

So, is recycling unborn ideas a good thing? If they do justice to the brand, the brief, the client’s expectation of your hallowed creativity and have never seen the light of day, why ever not. Especially, if you consider the fact that many ideas that used to traipse across what you thought were ‘your’ happy hunting grounds have been brilliantly fleshed out and manifested in fantastic campaigns by someone else. At times, on a different continent for an entirely different product category. There’s no way you can claim those babies to be yours. They just aren’t until you’ve delivered them. That said, would you still think twice about reaching into your recycle bin?

Bad ideas find ingenious ways to infest the planet. It’s time your good ones did too. Go right ahead and delve deep into your little realm of unborn souls. Unless you’d rather wait for someone who used to be on your creative team, now in greener pastures, to do it for you.

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