How to re-sell an idea to your Creative Director after he’s already killed it. By Sensitive Writer.
There is nothing more crushing than after a whole half-day of brain-numbing concepting, you emerge victorious with your next One Show Pencil idea, and your Creative Director kills it before it even sees the light of day.
What’s a hardworking creative to do? Stick it in the recycle file and resell it at your next internal presentation, of course. But, sadly, more often than not, you run into that phrase every creative is loathe to hear, “I think I’ve already seen that.”
How Creative Directors have this skill I have no idea. Perhaps the entire area in their brains devoted to “General Memory” has been over-ridden by “Shit I’ve Killed Memory.” Because most I’ve known can’t remember anything: names, clients, meetings, what they just asked you, what project they assigned you, whether or not they approved your vacation, when your last raise was, the fact that no you are NOT Michelle in Media you just both have blonde hair, where they’re going, where they’re supposed to be, or what they had for lunch. But pull out a recycled idea – even half a dozen years later – and suddenly it’s “Didn’t you try to sell this to me for Hardees in 1998?” Really? You don’t remember my last name, and yet you remember this spot with a talking dog from last decade. (See upcoming article: Becoming a Creative Director in 5 Easy Steps).
So is there any way around this conundrum? Well, if there wasn’t, I wouldn’t have a column, would I?
1) Find a new Creative Director.
This can be accomplished one of two ways. a) Launch campaign to have Creative Director fired (not recommended, as it’s dangerously close to “Baby out with the Bathwater” strategy and you’ll probably lose your job in the process. Which is a lovely segue to b) Take all your dead ideas to your next job. The best thing about a new boss is that all your crappy old ideas seem shiny new to him.
2) Re-pitch your idea as your Creative Director’s idea.
If he hates it as your idea, you have a fairly good chance of him loving it as his own. As much as it sucks to utter the words “You know, I still kinda like that idea you had about…” it sucks less than seeing your pride and joy wither on the vine.
3) Punt the idea to another creative team.
This is even more painful than having your CD get credit for your ideas (since that happens all the time, anyway) but it can be used in an emergency. If the idea is truly great, you can sleep well knowing it’s at least alive and out there, even if it has no idea who its real parents are. Hopefully you’ll at least get a slash.
4) Have the ACD approve it while your Creative Director’s on vacation.
This is a little sneaky and devious but then again so’s this business. And it goes without saying that if your CD hates it, your ACD will love it.
Yeah, it’s a last resort. But chances are you’ve seen your Creative Director in some sort of compromising position that he’d rather not have his wife/child/partner/Head of Account Services see. Document it, use it, delete it. And get over the guilt.
So there you have it. Pull out that trash can, uncrumple all those brilliant concepts, and get your pitch on, baby. Cause dead is a relative term.