I’ve been thinking a lot about George Tennenbaum’s blog post In praise of inexperience; specifically with the idea that agencies should strive to strike the right people balance between those that are inexperienced with those that are. According to George, it’s that mixture of ignorance-driven enthusiasm and wisdom-driven guidance that makes the best work.
I started to look at my own work to see if that sentiment held true and one particular project comes to mind.
Three years ago, I was part of a team that was pitching an advertising campaign for a newly acquired telecommunication client. The company was looking for ways to attract young, talented engineers to its yet-to-be-built innovation hub. They wanted the innovation team to reflect the lab’s shiny new (and expensive) brand: bold in ideas; tech chic in fashion; and can-do in attitude.
The agency assembled a creative team that reflected the target audience’s age range and put me as the lead on the account. I was thirty-six. I didn’t mind. I didn’t object. Heck, I even turned away unsolicited advice from colleagues who had at least a decade worth of experience in putting out creative work that resonated with the technically inclined.
I didn’t want to be anchored by the weight of experience. I irked at the possibility of hearing “oh well that approach will never work”. No way. Save it for another account.
In my imagination, the campaign would be audacious and gutsy. Courageous and bold. Memorable and enduring.
But it wasn’t.
It was ordinary, expensive and worst of all, unsuccessful.
Had we looked at past work, studied the unconscious habits that we wanted to change and figured out the true value of our audience’s aspiration, this might have turned out differently.
This is what experience could have brought to the table.
So yes. My ignorance-driven enthusiasm could have used some (okay a lot of) wisdom-driven guidance.
Here’s to you experience. You’ve got a seat at my table any day.