Tuesday, August 20, 2013

work or opportunity?

There is something that the ECD at one of my previous agencies used to say to me on occasion that I didn't fully appreciate at the time.

I understood but didn't 'get it' fully.

At the time I was working in a peculiar space, which I likened to being in-the-hole, like an attacking midfielder, or a deep lying striker.

Linking the play in between planning and creative departments, in the manner of an ad douche Eric Cantona or perhaps Pelé. (that's plenty - Editor)

In occupying that number 10 shirt I would looking for opportunities for the agency to impact other areas of the clients business other than the straight up advertising or promotional route.

The idea being that we could grow revenues from clients by nicking budgets that would have gone elsewhere. As a result we developed proposals for digital tools and utility, customer service initiatives, making things out of data and suchlike.

That’s the backstory.

The problem was that some of this output, while hugely useful and practical, was a tad on the un-sexy side.

By unsexy I mean stuff that wasn't going to be global advertising award contender material.

That's not to say that they weren't great ideas but their practical nature meant that just not those kind of ideas.

So the ECD would ask me 'this is good but what will this do for the agency?'.

This would irk me at the time as I was still a bit giddy on the whole social media branded utility blah kool-aid.

However I understand what he meant much better now.

Jump to earlier this morning in the car and I was listening to a old episode of the gapingvoid podcast, in which Hugh MacLeod and Jason Korman talked with Seth Godin.

I’ve read Seth’s blog for many years and just about all of the books, and he must have dropped the following nugget a number of times but for some reason I was most receptive to it this morning.

Akin to the old adage that 'when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change', one Seth comment reminded me of the difference between doing jobs and creating opportunity.

Seth alluded that when we look at things simply as work then the task is to make as much money as possible for doing the least amount of said work. When we look at things as an opportunity then it’s a different game.

‘What does this do for the agency?’ is not ad people vanity, it’s asking ‘what’s the opportunity to do something where the outcome is great for the client and also for us.’

As a case in point then look to this splendid behavioural and emotional activation for Dutch funeral insurance company Dela which scooped a Grand Prix at Cannes and propelled Dela into the top ten of most famous brands in the Netherlands.


Funeral insurance is one of those categories which might easily have been filed into ‘work’ however some people at Ogilvy viewed this as an opportunity, et voilà (or en hier to be correct).

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