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Lost in translation – the definition of good work

My favorite part about working in the creative world is the variety of ideas I get to see on a daily basis from colleagues and other industry professionals.

That said, many times I get shown work which is in my head, well, eh. Not great, not inspiring, and frankly, not fresh and exciting. but does that make it bad or useless?

Depends who you ask and what you consider “good”. It is so subjective that depending on whether your creative director votes blue or red can sometimes dictate what actually gets made and what gets left on the chopping block.Take for example the spots by Geico over the past couple of years regarding the caveman. Initially, the line “even a caveman can do it” was considered to be brilliant. I mean, I get it! You dont need to think or be a genius to save money on insurance. But if you look at the work that has followed up the initial campaign, is that still “good” work? or is it riding the coat tails of that first round? Again, it depends.

My definition of good work has NOTHING to do with awards, recognition, or industry hype. Those things may be byproducts of good work but not necessary. for me, the day when you can create a piece of creative that either

a) changes the culture (or)
b) is so memorable in 10 years that it still resonates as top of mind

So what are my favorite pieces of advertising that i feel have made that impact on pop culture? here are a few:

Budweiser – Wassup
Why? It is still mimicked among groups of guys every fall before football.

PSA – Smokey the Bear
Why? because only you can prevent forest fires

BK – Whopper Sacrifice
Why? (because im biased on this one, I worked on it) and it actually created a countrywide debate around privacy concerns and helped define Facebook’s policy on what is considered acceptable in regards to your friends list.

The truth of the matter is, there is no solid answer for whether a creative idea/execution is good/bad/relevant/correct for a client. It’s a judgement call at best. These are just a couple of pieces I define as great work. So my challenge to all you readers is to add on to this list – and tell me why you see it as great.

Oh and next time, maybe we can tackle translation in another light. Going from a domestic campaign in the US and the implications of translation into another culture such as South America or Europe — that’s a whole different ballgame.

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