Source and Re-blog from Ad Age

By Curt Hanke
Pet peeves. Precisely defined as a “particular and often continual annoyance.” Or to put a finer, more ad-game-specific point on it: things that won’t make you change careers per se, but will definitely make you think long and hard about banging your head against the wall.

Every peeve on my list has been proverbially petted both within agencies and between agencies and clients. In short: There is plenty of blame to go around. That said, and without further ado, here is my top five list for your consideration and contemplation. Let the commenting begin.

1) The word “just.” As in, “We like the overall concept, JUST change the art direction, copy and media plan.” Yes, I know we are in a professional-service business. And yes, I know that we serve at the pleasure of our clients. But this word, “just” — when used between client and agency and within agencies — fundamentally undermines, simplifies and devalues the complexities of what we do. Everything we develop and ultimately modify has both intended and unintended consequences; and further, to truly honor the spirit of any desired change requires time and careful consideration. Lesson: There is no such thing as “just.”

 2) The concept of a “one-off.” From a consumer’s perspective, there is no such thing as a “one-off” or an “orphan project.” Heading into any initiative with this mentality is shameful — it will lead to bad thinking, bad work and, almost certainly, a bad result. Lesson: The sum is greater than the parts. And every part matters.

3) The myopic, mythical virtues of being “campaigny.” Yes, apparently “campaigny” is a real word — as I’ve heard it more than a handful of times over the years. “So, why doesn’t the print ad match the website match the social media? Don’t they need to be more campaigny?” First and to be clear, we are 100% “pro” integration — make no mistake about that. But integration and “matching” are not the same thing.
Consumers are smart — amazingly so. Let’s give them credit for that. If they can understand contemporary brands with dynamic logos that change from setting to setting (e.g., MTV) or even multiple and disparate campaigns for divergent demographic or attitudinal groups (e.g., Geico Insurance), they won’t believe your brand is schizophrenic if every execution is not exactly the same thing.  Lesson: Care more about the power and authenticity of the connection with the target audience within every contact point than how “campaigny” the work will look in your cubicle, office or conference room.

4) The “too smart” argument. “I’m worried that everyone might not get it.” Also known as the fountainhead of banality and hometown of awfulness (population: you). Yes, let’s be obvious. Dumb it down. Make sure it is universally ignored, devoid of any intellect, really, whatsoever. Sounds great. (And we wonder why so many consumers think so little of advertising and the people who make it.) Again and to be clear, I’ve heard these words from client and agency folk alike over the years. Lesson: In order to receive respect, you have to give respect. So how about we start respecting consumers and see what happens?

5) “I’m not an art director, but …” Ahh, a true classic. And yes, you can insert any title into this gem of a phrase. You’re right; you’re not an art director (or whatever other title). Lesson: Talk to someone who is. And don’t tell them your solution — ask them how to solve your problem (and your concerns, considerations and constraints). Trust me, it will turn out better that way: higher quality, lower cost, and faster. Seriously, how can you go wrong with that?

Words matter. Parlance betrays belief. And little slights add up quickly over time. So let’s all — agency folk and clients alike — do our part to pay attention to our intentions, choose our sentences wisely and do what we can to create a smarter and safer world for advertising.

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