What should you do when you are given a shit brief that you don't want to work on?

This is a very important question, as your answer to it will define your whole career.

If you are the dutiful type, you will produce the best solution that you can, given the limitations of the brief. This will help your agency, and help the client's business. But it won't help you. All that will happen is that you will soon be given another shit brief. Do a good job on a shit brief for a second or third time, and your career is basically over.

Sure, you may be safe for a while, because you are doing a valuable job. But your book won't move forward. And when the next round of redundancies comes, the fact that you have been doing a valuable job will be completely forgotten. All anyone will notice is that you haven't done a good ad in a long time.

So it's absolutely vital to develop an ability to avoid shit briefs. And you have to do it cleverly. For the good of your reputation, you can't do it in a way that makes you look difficult, arrogant, or primadonnish.

In truth, a desire to avoid shit briefs doesn't mean you are those things. No one wants to work on shit briefs. And the best way to avoid them is what I call Playing To Lose.

Let me illustrate with an example.

Years ago, when I worked at Saatchis, some friends of mine (who were a very good team) got briefed on Oil of Olay.

They came back with a script about a woman who is dead. However, because her friends regularly apply Oil of Olay to her face, no one realises. (The idea was based on the movie "Weekend At Bernie's").

A fun and lateral way to demonstrate what the product does for your skin, but of course, not something that Procter & Gamble could ever buy.

K**** & C***** were never given a P&G brief again.

And yet, no one could say they hadn't tried, or hadn't done a good job.

And that, my friends, is Playing To Lose.

Tip No.37 - How To Write Headlines
Tip No.36 - How To Do Direct
Tip No.35 - How To Do Radio
Tip No.34 - How To Do Press
Tip No.33 - How To Do TV
Tip No.32 - How To Do Digital
Tip No.31 - How To Do Posters
Tip No.30 - Look At Weird Shit
Tip No.29 - Presenting To The Client
Tip No.28 - Presenting To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish