Not long ago, but in a different century, the late great Jay Chiat coined the phrase “Good enough is not enough”. There was a time when I whole-heartedly agreed with him.
Advertising was a craft, and I was a damn fine craftsman.
My clients’ deserved nothing less than excellence.
And when excellence required casting commercials in New York, or shooting them in Paris, it was a small price to pay.
Besides it was fun.
Chiat’s dictum remains a mantra for creative agencies to live up to.
There’s no doubt outstanding creativity deserves to be applauded.
Did you see the British Airways digital billboards that won a Grand Prix at Cannes?
It’s brilliant, but I doubt it will persuade anyone to change airlines.
Still, as a creative director, it’s almost heretical if you don’t subscribe to the creed of “Good enough is not enough”.
Only hacks would knowingly present their clients with less than the very best, right?
As Tom Goodwin, SVP Havas Media commented, “The last few Cannes Lions festivals show all the signs of the industry unbundling itself further from reality. At a time when businesses face existential challenges, we seem determined to provide silly, self-serving solutions.”
Maybe what worked in the twentieth century doesn’t work so well in the twenty-first.
At least not for the SMEs and startups who will be driving tomorrow's economy.
Many of them operate in highly specialized niches against a few direct and indirect competitors.
They don’t need the perfect Super Bowl commercial.
They need to be mostly right, right now.
That means strategic and tactical agility that delivers creative that’s better than their direct competition, to boss the category they operate in.
All I have to do is make them top-of-mind with a well-defined target, by putting as much daylight between them and their competition as possible.
And do this as fast as possible because the creative we’re working on today, will very possibly cease to be relevant in 12 - 18 months.
That makes my job simple—but not easy.
I’ve written about the unattainability of perfection before.
Art for art’s sake is a good maxim—for artists.
But not so suited to practitioners in the advertising trade, challenged by limits of time and budget.
Maybe we need a different skillset for different times.
Good enough is probably still not enough.
But mostly right, right now—undoubtedly is.