Pissing into the wind

To be completely honest with you, we don’t know why anyone would piss into the wind. It quite literally makes no sense and will only leave you wet and smelly, which are never good things on their own and together are a terrible combination. But as the old sayings go; stare down the barrel of a gun, piss into the wind, brave the elements, he who dares wins and the list goes on and on. In short, be brave. Have courage. Step out of the confines of comfort and into the unknown. Something any agency struggles to do with overbearing clients, who are really only that way because they fear the repercussions of a world who will tweet their displeasure in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, ad and marketing agencies are desperately trying to coax their clients into trying something new as we all realize that it takes more drastic means to get the consumers attention these days.

And we’ll be straight with you, it is hard. Trying to get brands to take off the stabilizers and ride free and solo in the wild is like trying to climb Everest without any oxygen. You waste a lot of breath arguing and you can never go too far as after all, you don’t want to lose them as a client. So the question really is, what can you do/say, to make clients feel more comfortable while you’re kicking them out of their comfort zones?

1.  Encourage them to be a leader

It’s amazing how many brands want to copy other brands once something has been done. Or they want to do something provocative once it’s no longer provocative and controversial. For example, once Apple brought out their Mac vs PC campaign, hundreds of other brands tried to copy the concept and apply it to their own products. But oftentimes these campaigns are successful because they’re the first ones to do it and anything that follows afterwards is just a crap copy. There’s power in conquering unknown territory. Encourage your clients to be the Columbus in this scenario. (Even though we know he didn’t really discover anything new).

2.  Have the uncomfortable conversations

Heaps of agencies forget to do this or rather, shy away from doing this because they don’t want the answers. But having those conversations at the beginning of a relationship will essentially mean less rejection later on. Find out what the organisation is worried about. What things they want to stay away from. If they’ve been bitten in the past before with a campaign. What topics are taboo and how much leeway you really have to play with. Even find out who are the naysayers in the business and have conversations with them. It’s easy to get a brief and run away with a creative idea before finding out what kinks will pop up later to trip you up. It’s better to get it all out on the table at the very start.

3.  Go back in history

Show your clients the campaigns that have become cult classics, and the campaigns that have been the biggest flops. Find brands that did flop with ad campaigns and document how they survived anyway. It seems like an odd way to go about it, but show your clients that really, what’s the worst that could happen? For example, for all of Pepsi’s flopped campaigns and the amount of times they’ve had to apologies, they’re not going anywhere. Or even Protein World who sparked controversy, but did incredibly well from it. Often, we are afraid of the unknown, so make it known to your clients.

The truth is, we live in a world that is desensitized to advertising and marketing campaigns. Consumers can switch them off, mute and block anything they don’t want to see and we have a very small window of opportunity to catch their attention. We cannot afford to be anything but brave anymore. We can do nothing but piss into the wind (metaphorically of course and never literally).

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