Thin Client (Photo credit: ryan2point0)
After the hard work of actually creating a good advertising campaign, often comes the really tough part: Convincing your client to go ahead with it. To quote Joshua Dean, senior brand manager for Axe personal care products, in The New York Times, “Sometimes with the work, especially if it’s different, the agency needs to shake the client a bit.”
Also quoted in the article was John Battelle, chairman of Federated Media. He pointed out that, “When you see campaigns that appear ham-handed, it’s probably because they were written by committee and cleared through legal.”
All this is a just another way to say that different is better than bland; it is the opposite of “better safe than sorry.” (Mr. Dean adds, rightly, “If you never had a flop, you’re not trying hard enough.”) But it is often difficult to justify the risk.
If a client rejects your recommendation, make certain to ask what the concern is. Often it is fixable without killing the concept. (I remember once we presented two ads to a salad dressing client; the gutsy recommendation and the safe ad. When the client chose the safe ad, I asked why. The answer was completely unexpected. He merely preferred the bland ad’s green background, rather than our white background; his concern was not at all about the headline or content. So it was an easy fix to put the tinted background in our preferred ad, and everyone was happy. You can see the final ad on my agency’s website, under Naturally Fresh.)
The big problem is in trying to recommend weird in a logical way. Using “reason” to convince a client of the rewards of trying the unexpected is always a lot of fun, and usually works best in two situations. One is the “honeymoon” stage, when you have just been hired and he doesn't know creativity is not magic, it’s hard work. And the other is when his competition does something unexpected and he demands you do the same.
So actually, all you need is a good idea. And a great client.
(As a thank you for visiting, here is a spot from Britain—chosen because you probably have not seen it— that certainly fits the weird category.)