So you may have seen this meme going around - pretty funny, no?

I guess it has spread across the internet because the underlying thought must be relevant to many different industries - "client has high expectations, but not the money needed to realise them."

However, the truth in our industry is a bit different, and in fact strangely toxic. 

In my experience, Clients actually do have a fairly accurate understanding of what their budget will buy. Where they could be accused of unrealistic expectations is over how much time things will take. Especially in the digital sphere. (One of the ironies of digital is that virtual things seem to take longer to make than non-virtual things).

But leaving that aside, the big gap between expectations and reality in our industry is not between client expectations and client money, but between the style and shape of what is initially briefed for, and the final outcome.

And that's not the Client's fault. Or the Agency's. It's actually a kind of weird collusion between the two.

At the beginning of the project, both sides agree that they are going to create something revolutionary, multi-faceted, and futuristic. And what ends up running is a TV ad.

Since I too have the Impact font on my cheap image-manipulation software, I have created my own crappy meme-style comp on the theme, above.

The image on the left represents the first presentation. The Client is really excited about the project, since this product is 'a revolution' in the field of home entertainment/ chickenburgers/ toilet paper. They want something really different this time around. The Agency takes that with a pinch of salt, but is excited to have an opportunity to create a truly modern, integrated campaign. So that's what they present.

But as the process continues, everyone realises that they don't have the time to build that, and it's also too complicated, and some elements of it are risky (because untried), so both sides fall back on the tried and trusted - and familiar and straightforward - a TV ad.

Now, I have nothing against TV ads. Many are great.

But I do find it perplexing, and indeed a little annoying, that so much time is wasted presenting a city of the future, which never gets built. And please note, I'm not blaming either side. Like I said, it's a collusion.

No one starts by presenting a poster for a coffee brand that just says 'Best beans, best taste'. But somehow we end up there.