Advertising's Gooey Center

Here’s an astonishing fact: most multi-million dollar ad campaigns are riding on creative ideas that are only half baked. In most ad agencies, the creative development process is so clunky and inefficient that creative teams are forced to crank out ideas overnight to meet looming deadlines. 
It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when creatives were given more time for creative development, sometimes 2-3 weeks. And they executed from a well-crafted creative brief that was approved by the top client.
Now days, the process is a mess. Turnaround times are minuscule, communication is poor and creative briefs are poorly written (and rarely singleminded). The creative teams burn nights and weekends chasing a moving target until, eventually, the top client sees the work and declares it to be “off strategy.” Then comes the panicked scramble for a sellable idea which is hurriedly conceived. It’s not great, but everyone convinces themselves that it’s good enough.
What a pity. If only the CEO knew that tens of millions of media dollars were riding on just a few hours of thinking by exhausted, depleted creatives who are basically throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. This is not the recipe for great advertising. 
Furthermore, just think of the time and money put into the products actually being advertised. Sometimes many years worth of research and development, careful thinking and planning, and thousands of man-hours. All of that riding on mediocre advertising ideas that were pooped out at the last minute. I really hate to see money wasted like that. To top it off, ad executives seem indifferent about it.
If we really want effective ad campaigns that cut through the clutter and get talked about, then something has to change. And since deadlines apparently “can’t be pushed,” the change needs to come at the beginning of the process. 
Strategies and creative briefs must be approved through the highest levels, all the way to the CEO, if necessary. Same goes for the creative platform, upon which the creative ideas are built. This all needs to happen before creative development begins. Do this and you’ll see advertising that is worth the money spent. 
Until that day comes, those of us who care will just have to hope for the occasional silver lining: rushed timelines give decision makers less time to overthink creative ideas, which can enable something notable to make it through unscathed. 
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