Recently, a young woman called Dani asked me if I’d run a workshop for something called The Young Creative Council.

I said “What’s in it for me?”

Dani looked a bit shocked.

Obviously, people didn’t usually ask that.

She asked me what I meant.

I said “You want to learn something from me about advertising.

But you won’t learn passively, just by sitting there and listening.

You’ll only learn by doing.

So treat this as an advertising problem.

An advertising problem always involves the question, how do we get someone to do (or think) what we want?

So the simple equation always is “What’s in it for them?”

That’s what we have to work out.

So look at this as an advertising problem.

You want me to come and do a workshop.

Okay, that’s what you want.

But why should I do it?

How can you make me want what you want?

In this case I’m the consumer.

You’re the client, the planner, the account man, the creative team, the entire agency.

How can you make doing a workshop for the Young Creative Council something I want?

Don’t answer right now.

Take your time, think about it, and get back to me”

About two weeks later I got an email from her.

The main thing it said was “I remember you saying “What’s in it for me?’
Well, I don’t think there’s much we can offer you that you don’t have

So what she’s actually said to me is “We can’t think of any reason why you should do it. But do it anyway.”

Let’s just see how that would translate as an agency’s response to a pitch.

Suppose we’re trying to win a car account.

After two weeks we go back to the client.

I say “We couldn’t think of anything, so here’s our campaign.”

And we show them a poster with the headline:


How likely is that poster to work?

How likely is the client to run it?

How likely are we to win the pitch?

In fact, how likely are we to keep our job?

It wouldn’t be a very professional thing to do, would it?

Because, as a professional, you can never say “I can’t think of an idea.”

You have to think of an idea.

Simply because you’re a professional.

You accept money for doing that job.

And that’s how a professional thinks.

Everything is an advertising problem.

Everything is an opportunity to be creative.

Everything is chance to get people to do, or think, what you want them to do or think.

If you have to sit in a classroom and wait until the teacher gives you a brief then you’re not a professional.

You’re a student.

Nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re happy to stay a student.

But, whenever you’re ready to be a professional, you have to give up being a student.

You have to give up being spoon-fed.

And that, if The Young Creative Council choose to learn it, is the first lesson.

That was the workshop.