Having worked on both the agency and client side of the table, I’ve borne witness to hundreds (and hundreds) of creative reviews. It’s a dance. There is the set-up, the review of the creative brief to remind everyone of the objective, and then the big reveal. All eyes are on the client to watch for the initial reaction. If you’ve watched Mad Men, you kind of get the gist. A lot has changed from that era of course, but the human response and even the interaction remain largely the same.
Over the years, a number of folks on the client side have asked me for advice on how to review creative. It pretty much boils down to “hug, bump, hug” – a phrase that came up in conversation with some writer friends a few weeks ago.
Unlike the famous scene in A League of Their Own where Tom Hanks says, “There’s no crying in baseball” there is sometimes crying in advertising – I’ve seen it! Here are some ways to not only avoid an emotionally charged creative review, but also get the best work from your creative partners.
Of course, there is no need to shy away from a good healthy debate here and there. The important thing is whether the creative work is on brief and is going to meet the objective based on audience insights. A bit of back and forth contributes to a positive tension. It is this tension and client-agency partnership that ultimately brings out the best creative work.