Does this post make you uncomfortable? Good.

8 Dec

Cat sitting on a balcony railing

The most damning comment I can hear from a client after we present some creative work is: “I’m comfortable with this.”

My stock reaction is to apologize and promise we will do better when we bring back revised concepts. Invariably our client wonders what the heck happened between communicating that they liked the work to my suggestion that it hadn’t measured up.

Advertising that makes clients comfortable makes their audience comfortable too. Comfortable people snuggle down further into their blankies and fall asleep.

Brave advertising takes people out of their comfort zones. It shakes them up or inspires them or makes them roar with laughter or gets them reaching for the phone or hitting the click here button immediately.

Brave advertising should, therefore, make our clients a bit nervous. Not running-for-the-toilet nervous. But giddy-with-the-prospects nervous.

Might it cause complaints? Yes. That’s the risk of not being invisible. There will always be someone who gets upset by your advertising. I wrote about some of our complaints here. It’s impossible to please everyone, so never try.

But why would any business want to take the risks that come with brave advertising?

Simple: because it’s just as risky to put your audience to sleep. And there are no rewards for doing so.


10 Responses to “Does this post make you uncomfortable? Good.”

  1. Derek Knies December 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    So true! It’s just like life, you can sit around and just settle for what you have and be comfortable. Or you can push yourself. Explore new possibilities. I’ve found that my biggest growth comes when I’m uncomfortable.

    Thanks for the insight!

  2. Doug Brown December 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    That’s my experience too Derek. But it doesn’t always pan out. For example, I took up skydiving to overcome my fear of heights but it didn’t help and I ended up with a fear of skydiving as well.

    Thanks for reading and sharing your good thoughts!

  3. Simon Salt December 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    You are spot on. My fear always is that the client will tell me they are ready to take risks and then when presented with the work will baulk at that and want to revert to what they are safe with. Always a fine line between “running for the the toilet nervous” and the other 🙂

  4. Doug Brown December 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Simon, you get a sense for how far and fast you can push the longer you work with a client, don’t you. The toughest sells are always the first ones out of the gate before the trust is established. Once they trust you, they are willing to go to more interesting places, which is very rewarding! Thanks for the comment amigo.

  5. Renée December 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I appreciate and respect an advertisement that makes me think, even if I’m uncomfortable. I’d take being sincerely uncomfortable over spoon-fed any day.

  6. Doug Brown December 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    I’m with you Renée. The fact is we ignore pap advertising. What could be a bigger waste of money for a company than creating advertising that gets ignored.

  7. Amy December 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    Okay, that’s all well and good, but could you please get the kitty off the railing? Please?

  8. Doug Brown December 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Make you uncomfortable does it Amy?

  9. Anonymous December 15, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Completely true. Nice work Doug.

  10. Doug Brown December 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Thanks Anon, whoever you are!

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