Why Have A Dog and
Bark Yourself?

by Jeremy Warshaw

A funny thing happened to me during a recent shoot. I got what I wanted. I mean everything. Let me explain.

I didn’t think storyboards would be helpful either for the shoot or for the pre-pro...

Said the Agency, “We think they’re silly anyway, no need to be locked in.”

I recommended an editor and they looked at his reel and said ‘fine.’

Same thing with wardrobe; Client said, “You don’t want me to pick out their wardrobe. I’m terrible with fashion. Look at the way I’m dressed!”

I suggested to the art director that protecting for 4:3 was overly limiting and unnecessary.

“Give me a minute,” he said, leaving for the powers that be, came back and said, “no problem.”

One of the 6 shooting days looked like it might rain so the Client said, “Get me the cost for a weather day.” We did and she said, “Fine. I’ll go for it.” A smart move and we didn’t have to spend ages thinking how we might shoot a board that was all about the outdoors, indoors.

And in fact this spirit of ‘let’s just keep the issues to those that directly impact the work’ stayed present throughout the shoot. And while this was as it should always be, it was so far from the norm as to be a little disorienting.

My producer and I would look at each other and say, “This is weird. Are they on drugs?” (Ironic really as we were shooting for a pharmaceutical company.)

Weird because virtually every job seems to be a struggle about issues that have more to do with job security than what is best for the work itself. If I had a dollar for every time an account exec anticipated a problem that was either not theirs to solve or inherently not a problem I would be, well, richer.

Advertising commercials are a classic case of being compromised by those incremental ‘requests’ that have nothing to do with bringing out the best in the script. It seems to me that many of the Agency world’s troubles can be located at the intersection between insufficient respect for the creative team and too much tolerance for those who operate out of fear. 

Agencies are part of an industry facing seismic shifts and all are trying to work out how to stay relevant and profitable. I’m not sure there is a clear answer yet but I do know one thing and that is if they don’t stand for and facilitate excellent creative work there is no rationale for their existence.  In today’s noisy, fractured and anarchic world, creating great ideas and being relentless in bringing them to life has to be the sine qua non of doing business.  Without this as their central rationale they will join the dodo and the golden toad as once living beings that are now extinct.

Oh, as a postscript, that job I was working on…I heard 2 weeks into the edit that the Agency lost the account! No one said it would be easy.