Years ago I worked for an agency where the president of the agency was acting as the lead account guy on some spots I was producing. In those days, agencies still had offices in decent parts of town. In fact, we were located just ten blocks from the client and we walked down one morning--3/4-inch tape in hand, to show them some rough cuts.
I remember walking alongside the agency president around 47th and Third and saying to him, "please don't say anything about the mix, I know it's a little hot. And we'll fix it when we mix." In any event, when we got to our meeting, the first thing this guy did was mention the mix.
In the past I have always broken agencies (and people) down into two groups. There are "yes" agencies--the ones that believe they can do anything, the ones that find solutions, the ones that think big. And there are "no" agencies. The ones that say "the client will never buy that," "that's out of scope," "we will never finish that in time."
A similar fault line exists when you have rough cuts to show a client.
There are agencies that believe the client should love the cut for myriad reasons.
And there are those (more numerous) agencies that fear all the things the client might say.
After nearly 30 years in the business, it strikes me more and more frequently how insecure and scared most people and agencies are. Maybe the decline in our business is due, not to holding company bs, but due to pusillanimity and small-dicked-ness.
I'm not conflating confidence and bombast.
There's plenty of bombast in the world.
There's too little belief in your own talent.
In your own ability to listen.
In your ability to hire the best people.
In your own taste, judgment and discretion.
When I was a boy--maybe 10 years old, my father made me memorize this poem:
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Some of your hurts you have cured,
And the sharpest you still have survived,
But what torments of grief you endured,
From evils that never arrived.