The 'I Think' Syndrome Destroys Many a Campaign

It Doesn't Matter If You Like an Idea, Will the Target Audience Like It?

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How many times in a brainstorming meeting have we heard statements that begin "I think that ...," followed by a personal experience related to the idea at hand. Or one of the team will say something like, "I would never watch that ," in reference to a proposed concept.

When conceiving ideas, we all want to relate to our audience target , and identify with the market. But the reality is , our targets are far different than most of us as individuals. Comments like these have killed great concepts, and can lead ridiculous concepts to execution and launch.

We demand comprehensive creative briefs prior to digging into a project. So why are we so apt to throw them aside in favor of a personal opinion? Because we're bad scientists.

In psychology, personal construct theory professes that people act as scientists, channeling their thoughts and actions based on what they predict and anticipate. A 35-year-old single, male marketer might expect that a 45-year-old mom with three kids will act in a particular manner, based on his personal experiences. But does he have the life experience to properly identify with a busy mom?

As creative people, we're opinionated. We want great ideas to see the light. We like our own ideas and project their success on our intended targets. And this is mostly wrong.

How can you avoid bad science? As a practice, I've done my best to remove "I think..." from rationalization of concepts. It's a simple trick, but it forces you to focus on the core rationale for what you're presenting -- not why you think it's important or destined for success. A response of "the target has shown a propensity toward this type of entertainment" is more impressive than "I think this will be huge. I know that I would totally use it." Whenever possible, prove it out with research, strategy, evidence or experience.

Sounds like common sense, right? It should be, but once you begin listening for it, you'll be surprised at how many clients, accounts and creative people suffer from the "I think..." syndrome. In some circles, it's an epidemic. I've heard the phrase uttered by junior creatives, senior creatives and people who should really know better.

It's time we put science and experience before opinion. I think ... we can do better.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Darryl Ohrt is a former punk rocker, professional internet surfer and executive creative director at Carrot Creative in NYC. He's one of the three super-hot bloggers that make up AdVerve, and admits to knowing just enough about the creative business to be dangerous. Keep your distance.
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