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Getting to the Big Idea, the Teflon method.

I usually start by asking: Is the brief right? Because it almost always isn’t. Most creative briefs cannot lead to good advertising unless they are developed with input from creatives—or at least a planner with some creative bones (a British accent is helpful). A fresh brief will lead to fresh ideas. As long as you have enough time to do it right. 

It’s like the old story about cows that are let out of a barn. The ones who stop at the first grass they come across end up chewing well-trod bits of weeds and muddy tufts. The more adventurous cows who make it past the first (or second) pastures find the good, deep, tasty stuff. Just don’t go too far and become roadkill.

Of course, obstacles are everywhere. No budget. Weak coffee. A creative partner who’s been beaten down. Focus groups. The client’s wife. They all form a virtually impenetrable wall separating you from success. And then there’s the problem that Crispin already did whatever you’re thinking of doing.

The painful reality is that this business is not just about finding the Big Idea. It’s just as important to sell the Big Idea. So unless you have the right attitude, advertising will kill you. For every 100 ideas you have, it’s just a fact of life that 99 of your babies will die. You have to be completely OK with rejection from your partner, the creative director, the account team, and the client. And if somehow your idea gets produced? Well, congratulations. Now you can be rejected by the consumer.

The bottom line: be Teflon. Don’t let failure stick—smile and roll with it. Because when it comes to getting to the Big Idea, if you don’t enjoy the journey, you’ll never make it to the destination.  

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