Fortune favours the safe.

I was recently in a pre-pitch meeting and somebody quoted the old line ‘nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM’

It suddenly occurred to me that she was using it in a positive sense. Because she had always thought of it that way.

The safe choice is the wise choice.

Now I don’t know about you but I had always seen it as a negative statement.

Even if it doesn’t work no one will question your choice.

I suppose in some ways we were both right. It depends on your perspective.

Of course most people are happy with not getting fired. Why wouldn’t they be?

But where there is no risk, dull advertising is never too far away. Without risk we are liable to wallow in familiarity, those endless shots of cars on winding mountain roads make everyone feel safe and cosy, but you know…does anybody care?

I think, as creatives, we have to accept the inconvenient truth that a mediocre idea…with enough budget behind it to drill in to our consciousness, and a half-decent product can do a half-decent job. The problem is that everyone has begun to accept ‘half-decent’ as high achieving.

That’s not to say that a lot of effort and heartache goes in to producing mediocre work, and people get just as protective of it.

Check out the letters section of Campaign. It’s always sprinkled with clients and agencies who claim that their campaign, despite universal scorn or worse – indifference – has seen an upturn in sales and everyone at TheBigCarCompany is delighted with the launch of the New BoringHatchback’s ‘Winding mountain road’ campaign thank you very much.

But there are couple of advertising’s equivalent to Viagra (and Pharmaland’s latest attempt for the ladies flibanserin) when everything gets a bit hot under the collar.

In the run up to Christmas marketeers suddenly behave like teenagers on prom night.

Suddenly water-cooler discussions are back, everyone starts talking about ads, it’s like the 80’s again. Have you seen the new John Lewis ad? The new Sainsbury’s ad? Harvey Nichols? What about that new Duran Duran album?

Yes, I know that retail’s busiest time is seasonal and therefore it makes sense, but take the infamous Superbowl ad breaks.

When you get that Superbowl brief (I imagine) you know the stakes are high. Everyone is expecting something that will give all concerned fame and glory and you’re up against the best of the best. Clients who previously may have been ultra-conservative suddenly loosen their girdles and want their agency to dazzle them.…that’s what every day should be like shouldn’t it? It’s the same audience out there every day, why not wow them at every opportunity?

But hey, I know as much as anyone it’s easier said than done. (I speak as an expert in producing mediocre campaigns)

Clients can see the benefit of a big Christmas or Superbowl campaign because they can see the benefit their competitors get from it and they want a piece of the action.

Well, if EVERYBODY is being creative I guess we should too…

Then it’s back to every day comfort zones.

When everyone does more or less as well as each other there is no pressure to be extraordinary.

The bar is a nice comfy height that we can all leap over.

The question is, how much of a Dick Frosby are you?






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