Lee Clow’s Beard

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May the scope of your imagination be matched by the steel in your spine as you always, always, always fight the proliferation of mediocrity. Godspeed and goodnight.
No brand guidelines have ever described a company’s tone of voice as “low-level marketing manager,” and yet here we are.
Things the client “just needs really quick” tend to fail even faster.
Too many check-ins choke the momentum. In terms of quantity and quality alike.
Valuing tactics over ideas is one of the greatest tactical errors most brands and too many agencies make.
Most brands would be better served by a handful of genuine oddballs than an agency filled with faux strategic thinkers.
When a consumer says an ad is too creative, they often mean it’s too confusing. When a client says it, it often means they’re too cowardly.
A good creative brief feels a little bit like a mantra and not at all like a mandate.
Pushing your advertising to do too much is simply priming it to do very little.
Brand assets are not shortcuts for creating advertising. They’re meant to become shorthand for what the brand represents after you’ve done the long, hard work of creating something worthwhile.
Just because everyone in the meeting agreed to do something doesn’t mean anyone else anywhere at all will care.
Too many clients insist that their advertising should sound like how they speak inside the company when it should be the other way around.
Cutting copy comes easiest to those who don’t care about the consequences.
Good advertising connects the dots in a compelling way. Great advertising compels people to connect the dots themselves.
If everyone on the team is excited about the idea, you’ve either done something very right with your process or something very wrong with your hiring.
Every piece of advertising is either a stepping stone or a stumbling block. For the brand, for the agency, and for those who created it.
With the amount of awkward, rambling, stilted copy in the world, perhaps we should stop putting “make it conversational” in the creative brief.
Good luck convincing your audience to give your brand a closer look when your advertising compels them to quickly look away.
Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s not an insight. In fact, of all your insights, it may be the easiest to use effectively.
The best ads, no matter how brief, tell a complete story. Which is quite different, and much more effective, than telling the whole story.
There’s a difference between the struggle being real and the struggle being really stupid. Know when to say when with bad clients.
An ad with two words is still too long if both of those words are pointless.
The only good thing about a poorly designed ad is that it instantly alerts people to not waste their time on the equally atrocious copy.
If you believe reach is only a matter of media spend, chances are whatever you spend will be completely wasted.
Many bad ads result from aiming the wrong message at the wrong audience. That’s code for just saying whatever the CEO wants to hear.
If what’s good for your marketing isn’t good for your audience, have the good sense to do something that is.
Knowledge of a product is a necessary but insufficient reason to buy it. Sadly, it is apparently not necessary to know this to work in advertising.
Keeping the lines of communication open is good. Keeping them overflowing is not.
Water down a powerful idea and you may still end up with something strong. But let’s try our best not to test this theory, shall we?
Happy accidents happen most often to those who create with reckless abandon.
Dearest New CMO, If you truly want to make your mark on the brand, let us help you make actual money. Unlike your predecessor. Love, LCB
If you can never sell the client a better idea than their own ideas, the best idea is to walk away.
The greatest risk is in the watering down.
Dearest Management, Two half-wits do not a whole wise person make. Consider how this plays out within your agency. Including the C-suite. Love, LCB
If your work can surprise with the sedate, delight with the derivative, and generate interest with the uninspired, congrats on being the exception that proves the rule.
“Around here, it’s sink or swim” is a sign of ignorance, laziness, and failure, not of a thriving meritocracy.
An ad that tries to make everyone happy is gladly ignored by most.
At some point we went from knowing good enough isn’t good enough to believing what the client says is good enough is great. This is not progress.
Can the work really be considered forgettable if no one paid attention to it in the first place?
The client is under no obligation to approve a concept because your team worked really hard on it. Sell the substance, not the strain.
If you believe tools are more important than talent, you are likely to be described as being the former while possessing none of the latter.
Of course an ad can be too clever for its own good, but that’s not really the issue plaguing our industry these days, is it?
It is more than a bit okay to annoy your client a little to sell them work that will irritate their competition a lot.
Responding to a competitor’s good idea with a better idea instead of the same idea is always the best idea.
Getting noticed is a low bar even a fool can trip over. Whether that’s a relief, a reminder, or a rebuke is up to you.
If your career trajectory were based on the quality of the ideas you produced and not just the quantity of accounts you worked on, you’d probably take things rather personally, too.
The point of an ad is to elicit specific emotions, not to specify what emotions a product may elicit like so many bullet points in a slide deck.
Of course mass media is still a viable and valuable tool. No one forwards their friends targeted emails that hope to find them well.
There is the rare occasion when your message doesn’t have to vie for people’s attention and no occasion when it needn’t compete for their affection.
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