Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #16: The last thing you should tell a creative

I was training a big group of newly recruited P&G marketers. Paco was one of them. Fresh-faced-straight-out-of-university, exceptionally sharp and incredibly outspoken.

As part of the week-long training, we spent a day at one of the world’s best creative agencies. The objective was to inspire and educate the new marketers on building collaborative, long-lasting relationships with their creative teams.

The day included interactive sessions with the agency’s top creatives. Nick was one of them. In-advertising-since-he-could-remember, exceptionally inspiring and incredibly proud of his work. It had taken a lot of negotiation to find an hour in Nick’s packed calendar and we were lucky to have him.

Nick showed us his favourite advertising campaign, the one that had consumed him day and night, that had stretched him beyond imagination and had ultimately made his career. “This is my life’s work,” he proclaimed as he played the TV ad on the big screen. He was trembling and glowing even though this must have been the thousandth time he was watching it.

 

The ad finished. This would have been the moment where I thanked Nick for sharing his work and and asked the group to respond using the feedback framework I had taught them earlier.

But this moment never came because it was interrupted by another moment. The moment when Paco raised his hand and simultaneously shouted “It’s shit!”

 

Silence.

 

Red cheeks.

 

Bulging eyes.

 

I tried my best to rescue the situation. “What Paco is challenging is whether the campaign delivers against the brand objectives…” But the damage was done and no amount of rationalizing could repair Nick’s broken pride.

 

After the session, I gave Paco some feedback, using the framework to set an example.

The feedback framework:

1. Acknowledge the good; 2. Highlight improvement areas; 3. Engage on next steps.

“It’s fantastic that you are so engaged in these sessions. However, your feedback needs to come from the perspective of the brand audience, rather than your personal opinion. Now how do you think it’s best to manage this situation?”

 

Needless to say, Nick was unavailable for all future training we organized. We lost our most inspirational presenter but we did learn how not to build collaborative, long-lasting relationships with creatives. Looking back at our less experienced days, Paco and I laugh as we recount this story.

 

Sometimes we learn more from getting stuck than from getting unstuck. So go ahead, embrace the stickiness.

 

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