Creative Opportunity #48: What not to say as creative feedback

“The creative team doesn’t respond well to our feedback.”

My co-worker and friend, advertising creative legend Tom Hall and I were talking the other day. After… too many years in the advertising business, we have seen and heard about every reaction to creative that may exist. From applause to a client taking out a scissor, cutting up the layout and rearranging the elements. Somewhere in between those extremes are responses that are more common. But there are a handful we run across (too) often that we hope to never hear again: Comments you should avoid if you really want to be known as providing good feedback to creative. Accompanied by some better ways of getting at it.

In almost every case, you’ll see that a better way to address an issue you’re having with creative is with a question rather than a pronouncement.

Bad
It needs to be punched up.
What does that mean? Frankly, this is the kind of non-specific direction that makes creative people crazy. “Punching it up” is so vague that it actually provides no direction.
Better
Could we talk about an issue I’m having?
More helpful is what, exactly, is causing you to say that. Is it a visual? Is it copy tone? Is it copy length? Is it colors? If it’s all of these, it’s a do-over.

Bad
The copy’s not very exciting.
This is the cousin of punching it up.
Better
Could we talk about the tone of the copy?
First, it would be more helpful to understand what you believe “exciting” means. And then what, specifically, is there about the copy that makes it un-exciting? A healthy conversation may be around whether the voice should be different than what is presented.

Bad
The logo needs to be bigger.
There is an issue if that’s the most valuable feedback that is being offered
Better
The idea is terrific.
(…and can we talk later about some executional elements)?

Bad
Management’s never going to buy this.
What do you think about the creative? What’s the real issue you have? Don’t speak on behalf of someone else.
Better
How can we get management to appreciate this?
If the creative is good but “risky,” get the help of the creative team in determining how to best present it. In its creation, the creative team likely thought about why it makes sense.

Oh, there are dozens of other examples. If you have any good ones, send them my way. I like to include them in Get Better Creative workshops with a discussion on how to address or change them. Plus they give Tom Hall and me a reason to chuckle.

Create opportunities for better creative. Go to Get Better Creative and learn about the workshop where, in one day, your team will become marketing communications rock stars. Talk with Dave Hamel, Principal of Get Better Creative and lead of the American Marketing Association’s “Successfully Managing the Creative Process” about getting better creative: Dave@getbettercreative.com 312.623.5567