By Melina Filippidou
Our children our future
So D&AD’s over. That was fun. An awkward combination of high ambition and low self-esteem with a generous amount of stress. Clocks were running out of time, brains were running out of energy and keyboards were ready to explode. If you were to walk in the studio the past week, you’d have been walking through a labyrinth of charger cables attached to red faces in despair. Loads of pfffs and swearing, full-time mentoring and a whole lot of junk food and unwashed hair. Or maybe it’s just me. Either way now it’s over. And it left me with two lessons.
The first thing I’ve learned these last busy weeks is to keep the child playful while looking for an idea. You can’t force your brain to think of a good idea and even if you do, you can’t keep them coming every single time you need one. Of course there’s a process that increases the possibilities, a process we are taught in the school. The point is you don’t have a good idea every time you use the process, but every time you have a good idea it’s because you use the process. The first part of this process is playing around, being in a “playful child’ state. I call this step progress. For me that’ s the stage when you give your mind the time to progress through talking with your partner, researching, exploring different angles, exposing to inspiring bits and pieces, then lay back. It’s progress because you make your thinking more divergent than it was the day before. Ideally, I would go through this stage on every brief. But usually it’s hard to be that patient when deadlines aren’t, so I end up skipping important stages.
Speaking of ideal, the second thing I’ve learned is keep the child flexible. Shit happens all the time, in and out of advertising. All we can do is take a deep breath and play along or walk away. During D&AD many of us started off with 3, 4 or more briefs, trying to benefit from the fact that jumping from one brief to the other activates your brain better than struggling over the same proposition for over a week. But half the way through, partners started to drop out, strategies reached an impasse and decisions had to be made. The thing is, even if you’re left with one or two briefs, your ideas can still be killed, or to put it kindly, challenged, and you have to start from scratch. And even if your ideas don’t get killed, deep down you know that they can get a lot better. Or, worst case scenario, you disagree with your partner about whether an idea is great or just good. For me that’s a nightmare either way. If you’re excited about an idea that your partner isn’t, you try to convince them although your arguments are not really valid, because the reason you’re so excited is listening to your gut. And you wish you had some proper arguments or a different partner. Which sucks. On the other hand, if you’re not into an idea that your partner’s enthusiastically trying to sell you, you struggle with expressing your feelings and explain your worries without coming off as an asshole, which sucks even more.
I think that all the above can be sorted if we add a bit of flexibility on the menu. We can’t have it our way all the time, and just because we planned something doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen. That’s why we call them plans. I planned this scab to be short. There.