Those Pesky Compromises

Advertising is a competitive business. I get it. We all think that somehow our work is better than the next shop's work. But the surprising thing about the viciousness is that we assume it's a failure on the part of the other agency, when we all know the compromises that are often made to appease the client.

Have you not been at the meeting where you are informed the client insists on using puppies in the ad to market their $20,000 server array? Put aside that animal fur around servers is like smoking a cigar in a nursery, we are often put in situations like this where the idea is severely compromised by the whims of the people with the money.

Even if your compromises aren't so Technicolor, there are almost always creative compromises being made. And let me assure you that someone, somewhere is sneering down their nose with disdain at your misguided effort.

Insecurity-fueled self-righteousness is the blanket that warms our small, cold little hearts in advertising. "We could have done it better," we tell ourselves, assured in our untested little bubble of superiority.

But the really funny thing is that when something actually manages to get to market creatively uncompromised, many of us still hate it. We call it ineffective or a waste of time and money, which pretty much says they should have compromised and listened to the client more.

No one ever said ad folks were fair — or even sane.

I'm not delusional enough to think that this little rant will change things. Frankly, I think we take ourselves too seriously anyway, so I couldn't care less if you want to sneer at someone else's dog food ad. In the scheme of things no one will remember us or the product in a thousand years anyway. But it's always helped me to get off the high horse and realize that if I absolutely have to work in-the-box, I'm gonna make that box the best damn box you've ever seen. Sneering at the compromises of others doesn't make your work any better. It just makes you ignorant.

Of course, if you sneer enough it can also make you a Chief Creative Officer. So there is that.

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