The danger of falling in love with your own ideas
There are exactly zero creative directors who wake up in the morning and say, “Gee, I’d love for my customers and clients to hate me forever.” So why do major companies like Pepsi, Nivea, Sony, Bud Light and now Shea Moisture continue to stumble? Why does the list of “tone-deaf” ads continue to grow?
It isn’t easy to create great advertising.
Effective advertising captures attention, creates interest and desire, and motivates action from an audience. Quite a tall order. To be successful, you must tap into the zeitgeist. You must say something relevant or do something that sparks conversation with your audience. Basically, you must be memorable—in a good way. Emphasis on “good.”
Avoid the pitfalls of creating bad ads.
One simple thing you can do to stay a step ahead, is to create a Red Team in your creative or marketing department—a group of your peers who will be honest with you. When you come up with a clever headline or concept for a TV spot, avoid the impulse to pre-ordain yourself as the next creative genius. Instead, run it by your Red Team.
Sharing the piece before the media gets placed allows you to do two things. First, by poking holes in your idea, you mitigate the risks of potential blindspots. Second, you have a chance to make your ad even better. If your concept still holds water after a diverse swath of constructive criticism, you can be confident that you have something worth pursuing.
Check yourself, but don’t go overboard.
You could take it a step further and share your ad with your target audience through focus groups or surveys. Yes, they take time and money. But getting your ideas in front of people who have different perspectives and experiences lets you create opportunities to deliver better work that resonates. At a minimum, you will sleep better knowing you did your due diligence.
Note: This approach can go too far. If you try to incorporate literally every single piece of advice you receive, you will end up designing a camel. Or worse, you’ll have a watered-down idea that no one cares about. Advertising can be bold and still provoke a positive response.
Share your work early and often.
Look, your advertising is never going to please everyone. In fact, it shouldn’t. However, if your ad happens to cause major public backlash, you can choose to blame social media or an overly-sensitive society bent on being politically correct.
A smarter option is to be proactive. Surround yourself with people you trust and, hopefully, you can adjust your strategy before it’s too late.