do clients get the creative they deserve?

I worked on a pitch last Spring that I was really pleased with.  I like pitching, it’s like Old School Planning but with the whole process set to fast-forward and this particular pitch prep went pretty much swimmingly with a talented team producing IMHO what was a very strong pitch.

The research was robust, the strategy was routed in insight and commercially viable, the core creative idea was insightful, differentiating and motivating and the creative executions ranged from safe to scary, with a nice two year plan to ease the client down the road to creative led effectiveness and integration of the Big Creative Idea right through the Customer Journey.  The agency was a great fit with the client’s needs and the powerpoint presentation itself was the best I’ve ever seen from a regional agency after two creatives spent hours turning a load of bullet points into a compelling, engaging and visually impressive story.

But the agency didn’t win the pitch.

The feedback was that the client said they liked the research
they liked the strategy
they liked the creative
they liked the agency team
…it was just that they’d tried using ‘Strategy’ once before and it hadn’t worked for them so they’d decided to avoid it completely in future as an approach.

Yes, this particular client (discretion and an NDA prevent me from naming names but they’re a well-known brand with a nine figure turnover) had decided that following a previous bad experience any kind of future strategic-led approach to communications was not for them.  As one of my twitter followers put it, that’s like saying you had a bad meal recently, so just to be on the safe side you’re never going to eat again.

I’ve seen what creative this client ended up going with as their new TV campaign went live recently.  It’s not good.  There isn’t a differentiator, compelling call to action or even mnemonic in there.  It’s just another shouty TV ad in a me-too category.

Like I said in the title, I think clients get the creative they deserve.

sharpsuitsegsreal client quotes from the fab sharpsuits.net

2 thoughts on “do clients get the creative they deserve?

  1. I would have to say that I agree. But I always wonder what compels clients to make these decisions. Partly I think its because being unnoticed as a brand has almost become a bigger goal then being noticed, for either a) being brilliant b) failing badly. Almost, no one fails that badly but the fear seems to stop people from trying to stand out. When you look at the numbers it is worrying, something like 89% of all ads are not remembered, 7% are remembered but not liked and only 4% are remembered and liked. It seems that a lot of clients actually prefer the safety of the 89% than trying to be in the other 11% of work.

  2. In a word – YES. I believe this aphorism holds true not just for client relationships, but all relationships. It is as true in life as it is in business.

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