‘Chronicles of a Head of Digital’ – 22

In an agency work environment, when critiquing work, I really don’t like to hear: “I don’t like it” .

This isn’t just because I am a grumpy old bugger, although that is usually true, it’s more to the point that subjective views do not get us anywhere. Yes, we all have our personal aesthetic preferences, but in the cold world of advertising/marketing and building out a ‘creative’ route for a client, then personal views do not help us.

Assume we are running an outbound campaign, then please let’s apply some science to the process. And, if in a room with the team and a route is being weighed up, “I don’t like it” does not help us.

If we all bring personal views into a creative review, commercially at least, we will go round the houses for months. This is as bad as us, as an agency, piling time onto a code based on a room full of personal whims and thus making zero money on the job, or if we bill the hours the client will be astonished that it costs so much to just get through round 1. And then the client will come back with their own comments… but that is another story.

So, please don’t say to me in a creative review “I don’t like it” and expect me to rebrief on that supposition. #Pointless

What you meant to say was: “This doesn’t work because…”


So, say we are looking at an ad concept of a mobile phone shooting out of a cloud of something creative in space with a trail of fire to show speed surrounded by musical instruments (to show it plays music), a clapper board (to show you can watch videos on it), some groovy youngsters doing some parkour (to show cool people like it)… and so on.

You say: “I don’t like it…”. It’s an open-ended statement of no value. Then I have to say “Why?”. Because “I don’t like trumpets, Can’t we have a guitar instead?”, you retort.

OK, so we all find out that you don’t like trumpets. I don’t care. I can get a mouth organ, or a piano in there if you want, but it’s fiddling around with stuff and not really addressing the key point. #HoursOnTheCode

“I don’t like the flames. Can’t they be blue flames?” Again, restructure your argument. This latter point has value BTW, but not for that reason – because there is no reason.

What I would like to hear is:

“This doesn’t work because having the fire shooting out the back, while it may show speed and power, also nods back subconsciously to exploding batteries on phones”. This isn’t a positive image to project when selling a phone. If you want to depict speed, have a swoosh or such like, it says what you are trying to say without the obvious connotations to a burnt pocket, lawsuits, product recalls and the like…

This structured comment, being pointed and scientific about our job is great. This gives us something actual to work on, and answer.

And when we present to our client, we know why stuff is there. A hell of an easier and a better sale. Clients do buy into rationale, they can be led by professional wisdom.

Thank you, point made, move along now, nothing to see here.