The Death Of A Great Idea

I work in an industry where great ideas die every day. And it’s a pity because there are so few truly great ideas out there. When I judge award shows, I’m always surprised at how few really revolutionary ideas I see in the market place. And there are plenty of excuses and plenty of reasons and plenty thoughts. But here are the most frequent excuses I hear for why great ideas don’t get produced.

The client won’t buy great ideas
This is the worst excuse of all time. I always tell people, clients can only choose what you show them. If you only show great ideas, they can only choose great ideas. If after multiple meetings, you can’t come to an agreement on an idea, then either you have different measures on what makes a great idea; different agendas or you’re not listening to the real assignment.

Research waters down good ideas
People water down ideas. Not research. Research is a tool. A data point. But only one data point. It shouldn’t be the only data point. How you use the tool is up to you.

The strategy sucked
Bad excuse. If you disagree with the strategy, you shouldn’t start the assignment.

Not enough time
Time does not equal greatness. I’ve come up with ideas in a day, a week – heck – even a few minutes. It has never taken weeks to come up with an idea. Yes, time helps hone ideas. Time helps create multiple ideas. But sometimes the lack of time fuels energy, cuts out the BS, and helps everyone focus on the task. Time should never be an excuse.

Not enough money
I’ve produced terrible million dollar commercials. I’ve also created great one for $40,000. A guy can produce a great idea with a video camera in a dark room late at night. Production value does not equal greatness. How many terrible Super Bowl ads are we about to see? I can guarantee that each one was carefully researched and produced by professionals. Just the ideas are not good enough to be special. That’s why they suck.

Here’s the only real reason for not producing a great idea:

We weren’t good enough to create it, produce it, or work with our clients to help them understand why this idea was special.

It’s our fault. Perhaps we’re not as good as we think. Perhaps we’re not as smart as we think. Perhaps we underestimate our audience. Perhaps we get caught up in our own bullshit. Perhaps we just don’t want to admit that it’s our fault.

So the next time you’re passing out blame for why a big idea died. Begin by looking at yourself.


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