Advertising Week 2014: Braving the Way

We’re ideas people. We brainstorm, play around with InDesign, parade about production sets and down much too much coffee; we’re advertisers, not firemen. You don’t tend to watch an advert and say to yourself, ‘my God, how brave’. But, as Mr Droga and his band of renowned admen debated, there is a place for bravery in advertising, and it’s usually this that leads to the best work. So, what is bravery, and how do you take hold? Sir John Hegarty, The Gate chairman Dave Trott and Decoded founder Steve Henry offered their thoughts…

Sir John Hegarty

Sir John Hegarty

1. Pitch the right thing…

Meaning the best idea, not the idea you think your client wants to hear. ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ sprung to life after hoards of research damned the notion. The best ideas will beat the odd.

2. Use the fear factor…

Does an idea make the hairs on your neck prickle? Make you think, ‘can we really do that?’ No? Then there’s probably something better out there.

3. Embrace new technology…

… and prototyping. It allows for experimentation without worrying about ticking the right boxes or following a proven system. In short, you can fly solo and avoid ‘the killing field that is the approval process’.

4. Care…

There’s a vague notion that great ideas just come to life, plucked from that mythical, misty vortex, ‘inspiration’. Such lies. The best ideas are usually a struggle to create. You have to continue pumping oxygen into them from initial brainstorm to launch. And occasionally a little CPR is required… You have to care enough to see it through, often against an onslaught of ‘let’s tone it downs’ and ‘I don’t get its’.

5. Tread the tightrope…

The line between bravery and stupidity is an awful wiggly one. If a new or controversial idea earns a great audience reaction, it’s ‘refreshing, clever, inspired…’ If it falls flat on its face, it’s ‘misguided’. Only in hindsight do we tend to label something ‘brave’ or otherwise. You won’t necessarily know which way it’s going to swing. The bravery really lies in trusting your instinct and accepting whatever consequence may fall…

 

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