Ad folk are a passionate bunch of people, working in an industry that is rife with subjectivity.
 

Result: lots of arguments.
 

So, here's how you can win them. Or at least more of them.

First of all, you need to stop thinking like a Creative.
 

Unfortunately, Creatives aren't particularly trusted in our industry. (We've partly brought this on ourselves: a story for another time).
 

Contrast that with the respect accorded to creative people in the world's most successful creative companies, such as HBO. David Chase, executive producer of 'The Sopranos', says "the secret to HBO's success is really very simple. They trust the people they have doing their shows.'
 

I also love this quote about Dino Patti, the CEO of games company Playdead, who made the successful and award-winning Limbo. "Playdead chose to ignore outside advice from investors and critics during development. According to Patti, Playdead felt these changes would break the integrity of game director Arnt Jensen's original vision."

We don't have that.



No Client is going to be persuaded to drop a requested change because 'it would break the integrity of the creative team's vision'. In fact if you said those words, the Client would probably laugh out loud.



So what can you say? 
 
I'm going to pass on something I learned from Nigel Bogle. (I worked with Nigel a bit at BBH - awesome guy).
 

I was once in a meeting where a Client was questioning some aspect of a TV ad we were doing for them. I don't even remember what the debate concerned now - perhaps a piece of casting, or a location.
 

I patiently explained why, creatively, I preferred the direction we were proposing over the Client's suggestion. The Client harrumphed. I had failed to persuade him.
 

Then Nigel stepped in. "It's actually not a creative issue, it's a strategic issue," he stated. And he then went on to detail why the direction we were proposing was more 'on-strategy'. And it worked.
 

Well, maybe it partially worked because it was Nigel Bogle saying it.
 

But also I think there's some truth to my theory that Clients (and indeed almost everyone in the industry) are simply more persuaded by strategic rationale than by creative rationale.
 

In fact we can expand this theory. I reckon that the secret to winning the inevitable arguments that occur during the cut-and-thrust of advertising is to ELEVATE.
 

If you're in an argument about execution, elevate it to why your point of view is right for the idea.
 

If you're in an argument about ideas, elevate it to why your point of view is right strategically.
 

If you're in an argument about strategy, elevate it to why your point of view is right for the business problem.
 

In short, elevate.
 

Have a great year, everyone! (And if you have any tips for winning arguments, please do leave them in the comments. Share the knowledge, share the love).
 

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