Last week I wrote a post about agency traffic.

How 80% of the time was given to the part of the process that never appears on screen (writing briefs, meetings, lunches) and just 20% given to the part that does.

I got an interesting reply from MelbourneJoe, see what you think:

“I’ve come to believe clients actually prefer to just play around in strategy – they’d much rather not have to do the creative bit at all. 

That’s why the client/planning stage gets an unfair amount of time (given that, as you said, people only see the execution)

Many clients actually believe now days it’s them doing the heavy lifting and the agency just help them out.

A couple of decades ago agencies sold the idea that the planners were the brains behind an agency and now its shifted to where the clients believe they hold the smarts.

But the reality is the actual magic, the emotional thing the audience responds to, the bit people remember, if it happens at all, still tends to originate in the creative dept.

When the (real) idea does come, everyone who’s contributed in the process before that moment misconstrue that the execution was an inevitable conclusion to their brilliant thinking.

But my experience is most briefs on the page are solid but fairly obvious thinking, often generic, certainly not something people would be inspired by unless they were transformed creatively.”

Now, I think MelbourneJoe could be talking about left-brain versus right-brain thinking.

So try this for a minute.

Clients, planners, account men, mainly went to university, that’s where the left-brain lives: words, logic, numbers, argument.

But the work is done by people who mainly went to art school, where the right-brain lives: pictures, sounds, feelings, fun, music, art.

Now comes the interesting part: current thinking is the only thing that works with consumers is emotion, which is certainly right-brain territory: feeling, sensation, mood, etc.

So the people that do the ads live in right-brain territory.

The people the ads are done for live in right-brain territory.

But the people judging the ads live in left-brain territory.

Why is this?  Here’s what Nicholas Taleb has to say:

“A bureaucratized system will increase in complication from the interventionism of people who sell complicated solutions, because that’s what their position and training invite them to do.

There is absolutely no benefit for someone in such a position to propose something simple: when you are rewarded for perception you need to show sophistication.

Anyone who has submitted a scholarly paper knows that you usually raise the odds of acceptance by making it more complicated than necessary.”

The 80% of the ad that doesn’t appear on the screen (research, briefings, meetings, etc) lives in the left brain, which is where university grads live.

As MelbourneJoe says, post-rationalisation lets them believe that all those meetings (which consumed 80% of the time) were responsible for the 20% that ended up on the screen.

But although they spend 80% of the time discussing it, at the end they still don’t have any actual work.

Someone else has just 20% of the time left to do the actual work.

Why does this situation persist?

I think Shirkey’s Principle has the answer: “People will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”