Step Away from the Ad: Stop Overanalyzing Creative, Please.

For as much intelligent, strategic thought that goes into the creation of a worthwhile ad it still amazes me how one moment of obtuse overanalyzing can ruin a perfectly good ad. We generally have less than two seconds to get a consumer’s attention and get the message across. We know this. Our clients know this.  And yet when presenting ad creative the meetings often go like this:

1. The client looks at the ad and has a natural reaction (usually positive because of our kick ass work) much like a consumer would – they’re not thinking they’re just reacting to it naturally.

2. We’re happy and relieved and talk about how much we love it, too (because our work is so kick ass).

3. THEN the client sits and stares at the ad and starts discussing its contents (while we pray they won’t go into overanalyzing hyperdrive).

4. After pouring over the ad some more the client starts to bring up “what if’s” and “well did you think about this…” questions and scenarios.

From here there’s a back and forth about these “what if” concerns. We try hard to convince everyone that the target audience will be spending 1.2 seconds looking at this ad. And that in that time they’re certainly not going to take 5 minutes pondering some vague deeper meaning, like how an ad for fabric softener could really mean that someone is just plain lazy. At the end of the discussion, sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Unfortunately when we lose, the creative suffers. Just imagine if that had happened to a huge brand, like Nike.

As an agency we have very specific and strategic processes in place to be sure every piece of creative that we produce isn’t just interesting to look at, but an effective ad that will resonate with the target audience. So when we go through the process of creating an ad only to have someone (who most likely does NOT fit the target audience profile) decide they think a consumer might be offended or may not understand the simplest of concepts, well it just breaks our little marketing hearts.

Bottom line: ads need to make it into circulation based on their merit from the target audience’s perspective, not your’s, your mom’s and Uncle Sam’s. Think before you overanalyze.

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