Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to kill an ad.

Killing ideas, whether they're ads, radio or TV commercials, online communications or whatnot, is something that has to be done wisely if it's to be done well.

Whether the killing is warranted or not, that's not my point today.

Today's post is about mercy killing.

It's about killing effectively.

It's about killing with no ambiguity.

It's about killing completely.

That is, not letting things linger and hold onto life like a flounder 45 minutes after you've hooked it.

Not sending the creative team scrambling, looking to make something more "sophisticated," when you, the passive executioner know you will never buy it.

It's not about saying "let's see if we can make it more 'edgy.'

Or 'I like the idea but not the language.'

Or some other such rot.

It's your job, if you are reviewing work--whether you're on the agency or the client side--to wield a cleaver.

It's not about being nice, hoping not to dampen the enthusiasm of the creative teams. Some people think beating around the bush with creative teams is kind.

It's not. It just prolongs things that should be lopped off.

This isn't a popularity contest.

It's about focusing and making decisions.

Which, in sum, is about using resources wisely.

So listen.

Next time you see an ad you don't like, that you know you could never buy,
just say, "I appreciate the effort. But that ad is wrong. I don't think animation is right for this."

Don't keep things alive out of kindness.

When you should be killing them.


Anonymous said...

Load that Glock of logic George. You call em as you see em, that's for sure. But you can't be making friends where you are. That type of naked truth is incendiary.

Anonymous said...

This post made me laugh out loud. Loved it! I'm a suit who's a straight shooter. If the creative is not right for the client I know how to tactfully reject it. Besides, I'm evaluated partially on the profitability of the account. So I don't want to waste time. But if you're presenting animation and its a bad fit with the client, my question to you is: we're you listening in the briefing? Seriously! If I tell you that 50% of the real estate in a letter better be devoted to x but when I get the first draft it's in there as an afterthought I'm gonna be pissed.

dave trott said...

George, that's similar in a way to the clarity Bill Bernbach demanded from the client/agency relationship.
He told the Avis client, DDB's rule is you can turn work down completely, but you can't fiddle with it, alter it, or suggest changes.
You either accept it or reject it exactly as it is presented.

george tannenbaum said...

That's right, Dave. I think Bernbach's exact phrasing was "Approve or disapprove but don't try to improve."

Anonymous said...

My take on this is that most of the time creatives do what they want and then try to retrofit into the brief. If its on budget, answers the brief and is innovative enough to get attention then sell it. If the client has misgivings its either their nature or the agency is a bad fit The fiddling is human nature. Were not in the business of telling clients to F off. Very few can do that.


Sell! Sell! said...

Charles, I've got to be honest, your comment scares me.

Firstly, because I know there are creatives out there are really working like this.

And secondly, because when phrases like "Innovative enough to get attention" can be trotted out as if that's an acceptable measure of creative work, then real advertising creative is properly fucked.

That Bernbach quote is brilliant.