The thing that interests me most about advertising is not digital. Or working with really amazing brands. Or the creative people I work with. Or being big business’s sexy younger sister. Those things are all great. But they’re not why I work here. I simply work in advertising because I’m interested in people and behaviors- and I think that advertising acts as a visual time capsule for people, trends and behaviors over time.So when I think about briefs and products and ideas- I lean on the side of the consumer. In fact, when I hear ideas that exploit natural consumer experiences, I get a little defensive. Just yesterday in a creative review meeting I shouted “Why would you do that to us?!” in response to an idea that exploited and ruined the consumer experience of a highly regarded and visited site as part of an advertising idea. The poor creative was both caught off guard and also embarrassed that he had somehow offended me so with his idea.
Here’s the thing. It was innovative. And it’s never been done before- I can assure you. And it certainly would have drawn attention to the brand we’re representing. And he’s new. And he meant well. And he has nice hair. But good God, it would have ruined the user experience of the site we’d be partnering with and it would have gone against everything that loved brand stood for. And regardless of where it gets the brand we’re advertising, we cannot stand for that.
What we create, while it has to be innovative and it should be something fresh and interesting, it should never be at the expense of the consumer on the other side of the monitor or mobile or whatever you’re working with. We’re consumers first. We can’t forget that- otherwise advertising ends up on the same side as all the lawyer jokes you hear.
So perhaps that should be on today’s brief, after objectives, key takeaways, deliverables, all that jazz…it should say: Pretend you’re on the receiving end- does this idea or experience go against anything you appreciate as a person?
If it does, we shouldn’t do it. Period. And that is another way to look at being an agency that cares about purpose. Regardless of what vertical you’re in, what product you’re selling, your counterpart is always a consumer.