Creative arrogance can both help win and lose business. There’s a fine line!

Creative arroganceThe creative mind never ceases to both amaze and inspire me. Their innate ability to see everything in such a unique way and to come up with creative ideas that so effectively build brands, engender customer loyalty and drive sales. In so many ways we as agencies would not be anywhere near as effective without them. 

This posting however, is a rant about the dark side of the creative psyche. When their incredible self esteem and undaunting belief in their talent takes them into the arrogance zone. I was recently exposed to such an episode and it ultimately cost the agency the business.

The agency received a new business pitch brief from one of the largest consumer brands in the world. This was their opportunity to make an impact, show the client what they were capable of, and earn their place on the clients agency roster. Not to mention that if they won the pitch, it would probably have been their second or third largest client!

Because this was a re-launch of a previous campaign the brief was very specific about what the client wanted and expected. They specified which of the previous assets they wanted to keep, as well as the media in which they felt it should be delivered. Not the perfect clean slate for the creative mind, but an incredible opportunity none the less.

During the early days of developing the creative strategy the team started to veer sharply away from the clients briefing – disregarding many of the suggested guidelines and expectations contained within. I reinforced the need to go back and address the brief with the initial concepts, and then once that was achieved we could share an alternative strategy – one that the agency believed was the correct way to approach it.

The response from the team was arrogant to say the least, and sheer stupidity from a business perspective. In essence their response was:

We think that most clients are stupid and have no idea what they really need. We as an agency will not present work that supports an approach that we don’t agree with. We are only going to present work against the strategy we feel is right and ignore the client’s guidelines.”

To make a long story short. The agency lost the pitch. Client feedback was that work did not address the brief, was confusing, did not appear to support their go to market strategy, nor did it reflect the personality of the brand. No surprise given the circumstances!

The agency team response, wait for it…..”The client is just not very sophisticated and did not ‘get’ the work”. I guess sometimes agencies just cannot get out of their own way.

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