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Guest editorial: No, if we’re honest.

October 9, 2011 at 4:24 by Tim Comments


Say it.

Say it and mean it.

It’s a great word, and the only thing that stands between you and bad work with your name on it. Lately, even in digital, I have seen this letter combination become the ‘F’-word of our industry.

Shunned in favor of the friendlier, more service minded word: ‘yes’.
Change the lay out – yes.
Scrap the creative – yes.
Make it bigger, smaller and to the left – yes.
Can we also make it say these other five things and get it at half the price – yes.
Can we change our minds again and then blame you for the result – yes.

image by Ben Heine

But no is the only thing that stands between what you know in your heart is the better idea or execution and work that no one will love or care about. Some will say that no a childish and self-indulgent word. But the truth is that it is the most generous, selfless and professional thing you can do for your client. Your belief in the work, your honesty, your ability to judge the message and the mood of the people in order to create relevance is all you have. The further you ‘yes’ yourself away from that conviction, the less you are helping your client.

Some will say that ‘yes’ means you get paid and ‘no’ means you don’t. Well, where has the yes culture taken your agency? ‘Yes’ is selling our convictions – the magic that once was valued by clients. Digital retained this magic longer than traditional media – but as we start to become part of the mains stream mix, even our shining towers are starting to show signs of wear and tear. We need to start saying ‘no’ in order to keep creating relevance. We need to have strong opinions and a strong connection to what is happening now and believe in our ability to navigate this reality. We have to believe in our ability to know how our client’s brand should relate in order to succeed. Yes puts all of these qualities out of reach for the client – and that leaves us with nothing to sell.

Jonas Lembke’s career in advertising spans more than 15 years, spent in Stockholm, London and Sydney and mostly within the BBDO network. He is currently Creative Director at BBDO Proximity Nordics.

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