True heartbreak in the life of a creative looks a little like this:
You’re in front of a client, bursting with excitement to show them what you know will be award winning work. The concept is solid. You’ve found a smart solution to their problem that will be memorable. You just need them to fall in love with it.
You present the concept. You’re selling it — after all, it’s your baby and you so badly want to bring the idea to life the way you’ve envisioned it. Their feedback? A quick and painful, “No.” And just-like-that, your concept is dead.
I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. I’ve been told, “No, start over,” enough times that I’m pretty sure my skin is just leather now.
I had a client at a previous agency that was interested in creating some digital spots to run on social media. For years, we had worked closely with a photo studio in St. Louis that was wanting to move into video, so they offered to help.
We created mood boards to sell the idea. The studio was so excited that they offered to write off the production of the spots. All we had to do was pay for the talent.
The client had built an app that helped customers find items in a store. They were wanting to offer giveaways for consumers who used the app. In other words: shop, use the app, win stuff. I was that simple. So our concept was built around that idea. When a person found what they needed, a giant, angry leprechaun was there to taunt the lucky shopper.
We had even found the perfect guy to play the part of the Leprechaun. He was an actor from Los Angeles. We just needed to fly him to St. Louis for a couple of days. In total, it would have cost the company agency costs plus talent costs (so, flight, hotel, food, that kind of thing). We thought it was going to happen.
But it didn’t. In the end, too much uncertainty and fear — whether an investment for a small startup would be worth it in an unexplored digital space — led to pulling the plug. It was never produced.
I was heartbroken. As a writer who loves to tell stories, producing videos is one of my favorite things on the planet. So when I get this close to producing a video and it’s killed, a little piece of me dies.
Of course, there are always things to take away from situations like this, too. Often, being told to start over means you’ll come back with even more great ideas. It’s a great way to test the limits of your brain and to keep pushing yourself to do better.
And, if nothing else, you can always use concept work as a way to talk about the way your brain works. Great ideas are still great ideas, even if they don’t make it all the way to a final execution.
How do you bounce back when an idea is killed?