“I can’t think of a decent idea, so how about just using a celeb to sell the brand instead of an idea that can actually do the job better?”
That’s just one way of being a fucking lazy hack. Don’t be that person. A lazy hack writes an unoriginal idea that doesn’t exactly solve the problem at hand, but does tick the boxes in some convoluted fashion. Why be “creative” like that, when you can be creative in creating awe inspiring, award winning commercials?
Here are some handy tips to not be a Fucking Lazy Hack (FLH) of a creative person.
- Shifting form Open to closed mode.
Being ‘creative’ does not mean being unreasonable. There is a time for open exploration of ideas, and then there is a time for hard look at the situation at hand and review of the work done. The latter requires an ability to listen and to argue rationally. You can’t grow professionally as a creative person unless you are able to get in and out of these two modes – open mode for ideation, closed mode for decisions.
(More about open and closed mode in John Cleese’s video below. Excellent ideas from a genius. Must watch.)
- Let it go.
As a planner, it is quite frustrating at times. A week ago, we would have agreed on feedback, on directional changes. When it is time for final review (Often too late), the idea remains unchanged apart from a few minor changes. The subpar ideas would incorporate the feedback just enough to silence the concerns – “See, the logo is bigger now”, “See the product shot is 5 second longer”. But the product or brand is still no more intrinsic to the story being told. Or there is no story to begin with, just grandiose poetry that would get an ‘F’ in a creative writing class, but that the writer refuses to let go from a million dollar campaign that has the potential to affect thousands of livelihoods – from managers to retailer.When someone points out that the copy is weak, the reply will be – “Imagine Morgan Freeman/ Amitabh Bacchhan saying it”. I say, don’t. If an idea depends on a celebrity to work, it is a bad idea.
Your idea was beautiful, maybe. But it is time for you to grow up and accept feedback. The idea is worthless if it doesn’t solve the business problem. Too often, writers cling on to bad ideas that do service to no one. Bad ideas do not win awards, they don’t work for client, they don’t look good on portfolios. Even if a client agrees to a bad idea (perhaps, because he can’t think any better or can’t articulate his concerns, but has time pressure), he will try to make it work for him. Client interference becomes more frequent and your idea is now a bastard child of confusion and desperation. Let it go, before it gets bastardized.
- Persist towards originality
All you have to do is think of an honest need, an honest yearning that is being answered by the product/ brand at hand. Think a little harder. As John Cleese narrates in this video, he came up with more original ideas than his group-mate because he stuck to pondering over the problem longer – Unlike others, he didn’t take the first creative solution that popped in his head. He persevered until he was happy with an idea that was original enough.
- Shifting form Open to closed mode.
4. Don’t do ‘fill in the situation’
There is a way to do this right and many ways to do it wrong. Thinking of ‘situation’ as a way to empathize and to imagine ways of being could be super fruitful. But more often than not, resorting to stereotypical ‘situations’ as the first springboard for imagination almost always leads to terrible advertising with hackneyed story lines, bad characterization and low relevance of brand in the whole scheme of things. It is the shortest route to conceptualising an idea, a story. And because of it, it is often the biggest impediment to good creative work. Our lazy brain wants to make do with what we have, instead of junking it and thinking anew for something truly original. And then our ego protects that crappy idea from feedback and suggestions of others. We remain mediocre. Don’t be. Don’t do ‘fill in the situation’.
4. Don’t let the work-pressure define your ideas
You have too much on your plate.
You have tight deadlines.
So you agree, not to reason, but to different people – servicing, planner, client etc.
Listen only to reason. And reason with others, reasonably. That will save a lot of your time and effort. That saved time and effort can help you create better ideas. If you let whims and fancies of others (or even your own) guide your work, you will become no more than a mouse cursor on the app that is your agency that people use to create their ideas. Don’t lose your ‘agency’. Fight if you must for sufficient time and space for good work. Why should you be turned into a hack by work-pressure? Fight the right fights.