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Politics and elegance

A client apologised for the internal politics of their organisation the other day.

But it really wasn’t a problem.

Because the nature, the source and the implications of those politics were being explained in detail at the outset of a project.

Politics are only ever a problem when they are undisclosed, unexpected and appear late on as a reason why an idea that is otherwise fit for purpose can’t happen.

Politics are a real-world factor.

And commercial communications experts should be used to dealing with all sorts of real-world factors.

It’s an applied science (art), not a ‘pure’ one.

A fact that many creative people conveniently forget or ignore when they put ideas in front of you that haven’t got a hope in hell of ever running.

Then they try to make you feel bad for being the political messenger.

I’ve always gone out of my way to understand the politics associated with a given client or a given project.

And to impart that understanding as part of the briefing process.

The best creatives embrace these real-world factors. They either work around them or actually use them as a source of inspiration.

The most famous example of this would be the Silk Cut and B&H poster campaigns which were highly creative solutions to the tight regulations applied to cigarrette advertising.

(I’m no fan of tobacco by the way).

I am a fan of elegant solutions to apparently difficult briefs though.

I trained as an engineer and we talked all the time in that environment about elegant solutions to messy, real-world problems.

In this respect marketing communications has a lot in common with engineering.

So clients shouldn’t apologise for politics as long as they’re highlighted up front.

And good, experienced agency folk should respond positively to the real-world commercial challenge and creative opportunity that they represent.

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