How to be a Great Client—Part 8: Protecting the Work

Once you’ve initially approved the work as a client, your job is far from over. Because most organizations are complex. And complex organizations have to contend with politics. And stakeholders. And more politics.

Why is much of the advertising that one sees online, in the movie theatre, on television and everywhere else—generally quite mediocre? It’s not necessarily because the creative people at the agency weren’t talented. Most agencies have talented and imaginative people to some extent. It’s often because the work got watered down or completely altered as it was ushered through the client organization.

Nothing matters more in this stage than conviction. Conviction with a modicum of political skill. Clients with conviction are able to better persuade, educate, cajole and inspire their colleagues to get behind creative work that might be a bit daring, or different from what the organization is used to supporting.

This is perhaps where truly great clients reveal themselves. They not only chose a strong agency, briefed the agency well and approved good work—they had the conviction and political skill to guide the work through the organization, sometimes against significant opposition or hesitation, and come out the other side with the work intact.

Next time you see a great ad or campaign, one that delights or inspires you, give a great deal of the credit to the client. It was probably a tour de finesse, or perhaps repeated acts of courage, that ensured that outstanding creative made its way onto our view screens.