'Tone It Down' Mentality The Death Knell of Ad Agencies
This is a conundrum we've heard millions of times before. A client comes to an agency and asks for "breakthrough" creative. Creative goes off and conceptualizes brilliance. It gets presented internally and everyone loves it. But just before it's ready to be presented to the client, someone, usually in account management (let's be honest here), says, "I like it personally, but somebody might be offended. Just tone it down."
And therein lies one of the biggest problems of the ad agency business. Agencies are asked and are in business to create marketing programs that, to use an overused phrase, cut through the clutter more than their competition can cut through the clutter. Sadly, many agencies are more conservative when it comes to risk taking than and health insurance actuarial agent. Which is to say, there is no risk taking at all.
Tone it down. Play it safe. Don't ruffle any feathers because, God forbid, you might miff someone over at the client and lose the business. The oxymoron in this tone it down scenario is, of course, the client ultimately walks anyway because toned down creative never cuts through the clutter and doesn't increase sales which simply causes the client to fault the agency only to choose another agency and repeat the cycle over and over and over again.
This is not to say there are no agencies or clients who take risks. There are plenty who do. But as a whole there simply isn't enough risk taking in this business. And that's a shame. This video from Captains of Industry gets to the heart of this issue in a humorous fashion.
As Mr. T used to say in that Snickers ad, "Get some nuts!"