Monday, July 2, 2018

What it takes.

There are a lot of ways to describe successful people and successful ad agencies.

Creative is one of them. Especially today when we all seem mired in a swamp of sameness or a bog of boredom. Creativity is paramount. It, not data, is what makes a difference.

Disruptive is another. A person or an agency who turns things upside down and makes you think differently about a product or service.

A third might be notorious. Those who do something that gets a great deal of attention, that helps a small message punch above its weight.

I wonder, however, if the most important appellation is one you don’t hear very often—at least as it’s applied to agencies. Resiliency.

In fact, I like to think I work, in effect, for the resiliency agency.

Here’s what I mean.

There are very few paths we take which are smooth. Very few occasions where downs seem to overwhelm ups. Very many times when we seem we are confronted by vagaries that can undo our very souls.

Some time ago I attended Steve Hayden’s long-overdo induction into the Advertising Hall of Fame. I don’t remember anything specific about the brilliant and funny speech he gave that night, except for one perfect Hayden-phrase.

Insurmountable opportunities.

A lot of times, just when things seem to be moving in the right direction, just say when you’re on the cusp of production, an insurmountable opportunity shows itself.

You can succumb to it. Say “fuck it,” or “we’ll do better next time,” or you can do what resilient agencies do when they’re at their best: Come back with something better.

Resiliency, in fact, might be as important as creativity.

The reason I find award shows so overblown and odious is that much of the work that wins is phony—it hasn’t had to survive the client gauntlet.

Creativity, as represented in award shows, where it’s you and a brief and no client exigencies, is only half of what it takes for an agency or a person to make it in our business.

Creativity, in effect, is table stakes.

What really matters?


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