There’s a piece of advice that always stands out for me, given to me by Damon Stapleton, creative director at TBWA Gavin Reddy when I was working there.
He said, “If you want to go on a five-star cruise you have to be prepared to go down with the ship.” At the time we were doing a big pitch for a retailer and we’d decided on a particular angle. Someone suggested that the client might not like that angle, and that we should tone it down or dilute it.
Damon’s response illustrated the belief that we needed to decide on a course of action and, if we believed it was the right one, stick to it instead of trying to cover all bases. If the client didn’t like the direction we had taken, that was fine – it would need to stand or fall on its own merit. But if they did like it, we’d have a really powerful campaign.
I suppose what I learned from that is the importance of following your instinct, believing in your idea, sticking to your guns and not trying to please everyone. The minute that you try to cover all bases, you dilute any punch an idea might have had.
It loses what made it compelling. What you end up with is something half baked, something that’s not really anything in particular. Something beige. And that doesn’t get you anywhere. After all, no one remembers watered-down half-measures.