An idea is BORN. You love this idea. You don’t love every idea, but this is the best idea you’ve ever had. It could make you famous.
Suddenly, you have visions. Headhunters swarm. Wieden is waxing eloquent about the virtues of Portland. Saturday Night Live wants to parody. The yacht at Cannes is calling. And so is your mother. Can she have a 1/2-inch to show at mah-jongg?
Reality sets in. You realize not one single solitary soul has seen your work of art.
Then come the meetings.
You share your precious spot for, oh, let’s say, Staples (above, left) with the account people. The research people. The clients. The clients and research people. The president. The CEO. And wait-the CEO’s secretary. After all, she is Everywoman. The personification of our beloved core consumer. In each presentation, you talk with unwavering passion about a mom who takes her apathetic kids to buy back-to-school supplies and unknowingly leaves the items on the roof of the car.
The questions begin. “Isn’t it disparaging to show our products blowing in the wind? Can’t we at least cut to close-up beauty shots as they land? Should the kids really be laughing when the bag blows away? Does that mean kids don’t like our products? Does our mom seem stupid for leaving the bag on the roof? We don’t want to insult moms and all of womankind, especially during back-to-school season.”
Or maybe your beloved commercial is for IKEA (above, right). With unprecedented confidence, you describe transforming a subway car with IKEA home furnishings. Laugh. Laugh. Mutter. Mutter. “Wait, just one question please. Do you think a subway is the best place to showcase our products? Is this commercial a little too New York? Some of our consumers have never even been on a subway. Should we maybe do it in a car? Everyone can relate to a car. Don’t we pay a little too much attention to the love seat? Lamps sell better in the fall.”
Or suppose your future gold Pencil, gold Lion, Andy, Addy, MOMA-winning spot is for ABC’s Spin City. A parody of the “Da da da” spot for Volkswagen. That one question comes up again. “Should we single out Volkswagen? What if we alienate our other automobile advertisers? What if they boycott our network? We’re big in Detroit, you know. Does Michael J. Fox seem boring? I mean, he just sits there. And that song, it doesn’t say anything. Can’t we find one with the word ‘spin’ in it?”
Ah, but fortunately your beloved idea did not fall on circumstances such as these. It was not dissected. It was not overthought. It was not overanalyzed. It was not feared but embraced. By people smart enough to realize that for every good idea, there are a million reasons not to do it.
And so your idea was born. And unlike the many wonderful, inventive, captivating, glorious ideas that are questioned to death every day, your idea lived.
As for the yacht at Cannes, well, we’ll see.