Welcome to the Rebrief

Image: Ed Vill

After the band acrimoniously split in ‘96, Axl Rose left with the name and recorded a new Guns N’ Roses album entitled Chinese Democracy. It took seven producers and nearly ten years to finish. The Ramones’ debut album – the one that graces nearly every ‘Top 20 greatest of all time’ list – took seven days.

When I’m on a pitch my first question is always the same, ‘how long have we got?’. If the answer’s ‘quite a bit’, I get nervous. Because in advertising, rather like Mr Rose, we have a tendency to overthink things.

We live in an age where we have so many tools at our disposal­ to inform us we’re making the right decisions. But for all the data analytics and research metrics, there is one tool we invariably forget to use – our gut. It may not be the most technical or state-of-the-art gadget available but it’s without doubt one of the greatest assets we have in judging ideas.

When you have an abundance of time, you start looking for faults – picking holes and creating more boxes that require ticking. Now I’m not saying you neglect asking the important questions that ensure your idea answers the brief in the most compelling way, but if you stare at something long enough, you’re bound to find something wrong with it.

Take any of the outstanding campaigns from the last few years and you’ll find potential faults or worries that could have prevented the ideas running. Burger King’s Whopper Detour – are we focusing too much on the competition? Nike’s Nothing Beats a Londoner – will we alienate consumers outside of London? TAC’s Meet Graham – is a single sculpture really going to reach our large audience?

Too many ideas have bitten the dust due to over analysing every last detail. Sometimes you have to bypass the brain and go with the gut. After all, it’s how every single consumer will view the work.

The Ramones – Pinhead. Two minutes and ten seconds of perfection.

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