Creative review: are you happy or are you relieved?

A review is the interim consultation moment during the creative process. The various proposals are discussed. Which ideas are good enough to continue working on? If the concepts are top notch, then they are presented, sold and produced. In the communications biz, the latter is called execution, but that sounds scarier than it is.

Occasionally not-so-good ideas pass through the review. They even make it to the execution stage. Sometimes you want too much for a medium-good idea to be really good.

The client pays for a good idea. A valid argument for wanting to deliver it.

Second, a good idea changes everything.
No energy in the team? Good idea; everything flows again. Customer relationship chafing? Good idea; we’re not talking about any problems anymore. As an account, I sometimes longed deeply for the review. When things went well, it meant wind in my sails, without having to blow them myself.

Sometimes there is a less elevating reason to wish for a good idea. And right now.
I had as an account once a review where everything was at stake. If the idea was not good, soon twenty of my colleagues could no longer pay their mortgages, I was assured. So a piece of healthy tension on my side.

The review begins. Click, screen on. Explanation of creation. Tadaa: the idea on the screen. And I saw it was good. It was great! Me happy. Not “Linkedin happy,” but REALLY happy happy. So dreadfully happy. I almost exploded with joy. That’s what I said all the time. Oh, man I am SO HAPPY. Not normal!

The art director on duty looked straight at me and asked, “Are you happy, or are you relieved?

A fascinating question. The more I think about it the murkier the answer sometimes becomes. I’ve been asking ‘myself ever since when reviewing creative work. Is there pure unadulterated joy because the work is top notch? Or relief because there is something at all. Whatever is somewhat passable. Am I happy because I am relieved? Or am I relieved to be happy?

My tip is to practice the above question this week. Next week’s denouement will follow here. Wishing everyone a very happy week ahead!

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