The “ad-like object.” Tips for viewing creative work before it’s even born.
June 27, 2013
We were previewing numerous campaign ideas today at the agency, perhaps a dozen of them tacked up in the wall, comprised of the usual bits: potential tag lines, assorted copy, found images and various “ad-like objects.” Because this was the first internal round of discussion the work was still quite primitive. This meant the usual caveats (it’s not ready, it’s not right, we’re still working on it, etc.) had to be given to those seeing the work for the very first time. After all, we did not want anyone judging our earliest efforts as finished product. Though everyone in attendance was aware of the calendar, we were nevertheless compelled to stress that THIS WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING. Why? Because it is human nature to react to what you see in front of you. One would think it goes without saying but it never does. Regardless, invariably someone criticizes an ad like object as if it were an ad. Like I said: human nature. It can’t be helped.
This got me thinking about another old saw: that for creative people ideas are like babies. Painful to endure, the comparison is particularly apt when looking at incomplete work.
To avoid using clichés, a while back I prefaced another presentation of early ideas by telling my colleagues that the work was in it’s first trimester, barely more than a nucleus of an idea. The work = baby notion stuck. Think about it. A parent viewing a sonogram of his or her unborn baby isn’t going to comment on how handsome or pretty the thing is. It isn’t. The “creators” are only going to be concerned about the embryo’s validity. Is it legitimate? Is it growing properly? Will it soon turn into a normal human being? These criteria are what we want viewers of our work to consider when it, too, is in the first trimester.
The next time parents view a sonogram they begin to see the child for what it will become, it’s vital organs, the sex, and perhaps certain features. The same applies for the second round of creative. Though today’s compressed deadlines often require having more completed “babies” than in the second go around of a nine-month gestation process, it’s still a fair comparison. Here is when we can see if there are any abnormalities that require serious intervention or, forgive my frankness, termination.
If we are fortunate enough to have a third internal viewing, this is where our babies better be in good shape and ready for delivery. Like prepping a child’s room, now is when we begin building the presentation in earnest. All the accouterments are constructed and set up to best “show off” our proud creation.
The client presentation is where we deliver the babies. God willing, they adore them as much as we do. But even then we caveat our ideas. “Remember, it’s not the real ad yet. It still has to be shot.” What’s that other cliché? Oh yeah, it’ll be beautifully lit.