Play the Game. Win the Game.

Image: Archives de la Ville de Montréal

When you can lay claim to writing Paul McCartney’s favourite song, it’s fair to say you know how to write a ditty. Brian Wilson, co-founder and main songwriter of the Beach Boys is regarded as one of the most innovative songwriters of the twentieth century. Yet how he managed to write anything during their heyday is nothing short of a miracle.

In the mid-sixties, the band were not only touring heavily but also under contract to produce a staggering three albums a year. To put even more pressure on the songwriter, the other band members were keen to continue the prosaic yet successful formula of surfers, cars and girls. But Wilson managed to endure the record label’s greed and the group’s lack of vision, to create Pet Sounds, arguably one of the most important albums of all time.

A record that’s not only a testament to his powers to create but also his powers to convince.

Even advertising’s greatest campaigns had their doubters, and not just from clients. Groundbreaking work by its very nature is different and unproven. Factors that inevitably evoke a lot of questions and reservations. It may require a great deal of skill to create ideas of this magnitude but it also requires a huge amount of skill to get them through unscathed.

The tools required fall into two simple categories. How you defend the work and how you amend the work.

The smartest ad folk are able to have an answer for everything. Adept at being empathetic to a client’s concerns whilst having the immediate power to perfectly articulate and persuade why the current way is the right way without upsetting the client.

The second point is acting on the feedback without compromising the idea. Sometimes it’s ok to make changes to appease a client, it’s just knowing which changes are relatively harmless and which ones will rip the idea to shreds.

Big ideas are both powerful and fragile. Without proper protection, your game changer can quickly turn into wallpaper.


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