At GGT, our CEO was Mike Greenlees.
His favourite expression was “As well as, not instead of”.
That was his answer to most questions.
It’s a very challenging response.
It’s everything that people in advertising have lost the ability to understand.
People now only have the capacity for “either/or” thinking.
If you like technology, ideas must be redundant.
If you like ideas, technology is rubbish.
If you like execution, strategy is stupid.
If you like strategy, execution is a waste of time.
I call this “either/or” thinking, but in truth it isn’t thinking at all.
It’s the lazy way out.
It accepts that you don’t have the energy or ability to do both.
So, out of laziness you choose one and, to validate your choice, you rubbish the other.
And that seems to be pretty much where we’re at.
This lazy way of thinking wouldn’t have satisfied Greenlees.
If I’d said “Is this brief about execution?”
He’d have said “Yes, but as well as, not instead of.”
Meaning it had to have an idea of course.
But execution was also important.
The execution would have to come out of the idea.
Which of course made life harder, but it made the end result better.
Of course “As well as, not instead of” can only be the motto of really good people.
Because it takes a lot more work and a lot more brains.
Doing two things is always harder than doing one.
Current thinking is “You can only do one thing properly.”
This is used to get lazy people off the hook.
For them it means you only try to do one thing.
Whereas in actual fact it should mean you PRIORITISE one thing.
And the thing you prioritise, on the brief, is the out-take, not the input.
The brief isn’t an instruction manual.
It is a brief summation of the problem and strategy.
That’s why it’s called a BRIEF.
Instead of being called a ‘Full-length instruction manual’.
Of course, the ability to achieve inclusive thinking is beyond a lot of people.
They are stuck at right/wrong “either/or” thinking.
But the very best thinkers don’t agree with them.
“A great ad is 80% idea and 80% execution” – John Hegarty
“Execution is idea in a work of genius” – Bill Bernbach
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
But my favourite quote about advertising explains why we need a creative department in the first place.
It explains why we don’t just run the marketing strategy the way it’s written.
“You have to entertain in the hope that you can educate, because the other way round doesn’t work” – Walt Disney