We can do this.

In a smoke-free meeting room, a tin box of crackers goes around with a dozen people munching, masticating, marauding the little round rascals. The biscuit is no good, someone opines. But that doesn’t stop him from dredging a fistful of those from the tin box. The box’s golden underbelly is now visible and that is causing visible disbelief to a few.  They had hoped it to be bottomless. Alas, they don’t make magical ever-full tinboxes of yummy, crunchy biscuits any more.

Is it the biscuit or the clank and clink of the golden box? The eyes in the room are narrowed and the smiles almost reach them. Must be the evening. A good way to leave office – on full happy tummies after hearty bouts and jousts of the brain. The preceding hour had been one of ideas been coaxed out, thrown around – like a beach volleyball. The idea gets tossed from one person to another. The difference being, in this game of volleyball, the ball mutates with every bounce – it changes colour, shape and its feel. The CCO sitting there gets worried from time to time – he is worried the ball will mutate into a lemon. But when the game is on, there is no stopping the mutation. It is a delicate art to stop the game when the ball is a pristine orb of furious energy and shining originality. It is easy for it to end on a sour lemon of an idea, if someone holds on to it too dearly. The chief creative offer then has to coax it out of the biased hands and set to back and forth bounce again.

Like a bunch of bandicoots made to wake up by digging them up at the height of noon, the end of game feels disorienting to many. But the CCO has found the shining beacon of originality and awesomeness. It’s time to make the idea happen.

The chief and the planner walk in, “so what’s the idea?”.

There is a moment of silence as no one is ready to start the new conversation. There is alarm in their eyes – eyes that are also dying to roll at the profusion of what-they-think-is, bullshit that is to follow. They are worried that the chief and planner duo will shoot out darts and puncture the various mutated globes they are holding in their arms so dearly. Most of their ideas would be punctured now. Only one idea will leave the room alive. Most will be killed pretty mercilessly.

The CCO makes an attack. Attack as in the music, not war. A confident start to the symphony that leads to the crescendo of ideas. It starts playfully, with laughter and grand pronunciations, with witty observations segueing into grand visions. Like an experienced conductor, he shores up confidence among his fellow team mates and encourages their ideas to be pronounced in sync with his melody. The rhythm unfortunately is set by a misogynist joke. But people weather it, knowing well that the joke is the support that swells the confidence in the conductor and questioning it now, will derail the symphony. The composition is more like jazz – improved upon as it gets performed.  The planner and the chief, seeing that the ideas are not ‘too bad’ and ‘to the brief’, sing along too. They add bass of reason and strategic perspective to shore up the melody. They envision what the client will react to and steer the idea in a direction that would be better appreciated.

The music changes – now it’s a call and response gig. The planner suggests, the creative team reacts, the chief questions, the team builds upon. The give and take goes on until everyone in the room is confident enough of winning hearts with the idea.

There is palpable excitement in the air. We can do this. Goddamnit we are gold.

Advertisements

Strategy-Wategy

What do you do when you have a shitty creative that is to the brief and a kickass creative that is absolutely useless?
Imagine you need to sell a soap. Imagine that for the sales to move, “strategically”, the brand needs to say,

“This soap will make your elephant like skin into a soft and smooth love affair between velvet and cuttle fish”.

(Because research says so. Perhaps you are in 22nd century Japan and people are really into cuttle fish skin implants.) But the creative team is bored of soaps and they hate soft things. The like edgy things, like armadillo’s back. So they are not really inspired with the whole thought of ‘soft like a cuttle fish’ shtick. Just to get the servicing and planners off their backs, they create something. It says

“Remember that time when you got drunk and left your hand in a water jar for the night and the skin went all mush? That’s how soft your skin will be when you use this soap.”

But in 22nd century Japan, they don’t drink anymore and they don’t have jars anymore. So no one understands what the ad is saying. And the ones who do understand are violently retching. But hey, that was to the brief! “So shut your soft ass up, servicing people” says the creative guy.

The other creative route they prepare says,

“Your elephant skin is sexy as it is. But you can make it sexier with this armadillo fart scented soap that is totally out of this world. Wow. So. Much. Armadillo.”

For some reason, armadillo fart scent is all the rage in 22nd century Japan. Its not just a scent, it is a way of life for the young there. It is like #YOLO, but more chill. So you know the ad has the potential to go viral. The young (who are not the TG) would devour this campaign whole. It looks amazing. Fabulous. I mean, creative teams are crying over the beauty of the whole campaign. It is that good. But, our customers with elephant skin are older people. They are old school. They don’t even know armadillos or their farts.

But it’s a pitch. and this one client is excitable. easily so. You know he will love the second route. Because, remember, all our decisions are emotional. And the first route is not exciting by design. Perhaps he feels these are only two choices for him. Perhaps his guts are reactive and they have reacted positively.

You take both routes to the client to keep everyone happy. Client likes the second route. We get the business. In a year’s time, it will be agency review time.

And the client will keep on choosing armadillo farts over cuttle fish, because agency can’t always afford to push for the seemingly right solution at the expense of their business. Who knows what will work at the end of the day, anyways. You can only make educated guesses and hypothesis.

And pitches go on.