Why Advertising Needs More Candy-Feeding Beard Ideas

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Recently, as I was having my car's air conditioner overhauled, I discovered I need something I had left in the vehicle's glove box. When I was taken back to the service bay I found my car's dash had been removed, including the steering wheel. The service person said they didn't like to let customers see their cars while their being serviced to avoid the look I had on my face.
Bart Cleveland
Bart Cleveland

When I picked my car up I was relieved to find it was in it's original form but I'm still not able to shake the picture of my beloved in such an awful state. It reminded me that some things are better left in ignorance. I think the same rule applies in advertising. Do clients really need to know every step of what we do? I think not. I recently shot a commercial that had one scene the director really wanted to shoot that was a bit abstract but had the potential of making the spot really beautiful. We mentioned it to the client and she started worrying that it would be distracting and didn't want to shoot it. I told her that we should shoot it and when we got to the edit we could decide if it helped the spot or was a distraction. She agreed so I was happy that she trusted us with the decision. It's important to let experimentation happen for that is where the magic happens. The happy accident, the unscripted line, these are all things that take good to great.

Advertising is not effective if it doesn't provoke people with the unexpected. I think that is why a lot of ads today that are really bizarre and nonsensical are working. The TV spot of the beard that feeds Skittles for example. I can't watch that spot without a gag reflex but I can't get it out of my head either. I think clients need more candy-feeding beard ideas. I like clever over bizarre but we've been dipping into that pool for quite a while. It gets harder to be fresh.

I have clients that let us produce work without any supervision. They say they wouldn't know what to offer if they were present and that that's what they pay us for. On the other hand I have clients that want to walk with us through every step and approve every decision. Some want multiple choices of every decision. The work has turned out good but it takes a lot more time and energy and it's discouraging because it's obvious that there is a trust issue. Obviously I really appreciate the one that trusts me enough to make decisions on their behalf because there are times when, like my car, the work is in a scary mess before it's finished. Knowing that a client with limited knowledge of the production process is watching and worrying doesn't help. That's probably why surgeons knock out their patients. They don't want any suggestions from the client.

I encourage marketers to trust their agency. If they aren't trustworthy, tell them. If they don't get better, get another agency.

Agencies are doing their job when they take a marketer to a better place. Getting there is scary, but it's worth it. It reminds me of an excerpt of a poem that makes the point.

"Come to the edge."
"We can't. We're afraid."
"Come to the edge."
"We can't. We will fall!"
"Come to the edge."
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

Guillaume Apollinaire, 1880-1918
French Poet, Philosopher
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