David Blecken
Sep 26, 2014

Fear's role in great creative work

SPIKES ASIA - Campaign Asia-Pacific’s day-three seminar drew three renowned creatives into a thought-provoking discussion on the factors that lead to confidence.

L-R: Silk, Guerrero, Sherlock, Baron
L-R: Silk, Guerrero, Sherlock, Baron

Please see all of our Spikes Asia 2014 coverage here

Moderated by Atifa Silk, Campaign's brand director, the session featured David Guerrero, chairman and chief creative officer of BBDO Guerrero; Rob Sherlock, worldwide ECD of ADK; and Pat Baron, ECD of McCann Melbourne. Panelists considered the difference between confidence and over-confidence, why a degree of insecurity can be a good thing, and how to engender trust in clients.

Examples featured to illustrate confidence in ideas included BBDO Guerrero’s campaign for Pantene that sought to debunk negative labels attached to women, ‘Guilt Trips’ by McCann for V/Line, Dentsu’s ‘Sound of Senna’ for Honda, ‘Flames of War’ by ADK for Bomy in Taiwan, and footage of an extreme free speed climb (the protagonist of which Sherlock informed us later died in the name of his art). 

Here are some of the highlights from the conversation:

On insecurity:

Sherlock: “You have to be vulnerable to allow new things to come in.” 

Baron: “A lot of creatives are insecure, and it helps them to keep driving to get the best possible results.”

On confidence:

Guerrero: “There’s honest confidence and dishonest confidence. We encourage people to do work rather than front for something they haven’t done. You will be confident if you’ve done the work and believe it’s the right thing.”

Sherlock: “Experience [encumbers] new ideas. Having less experience allows you to be more confident. You are not encumbered by the rucksack of [what] happened before.”

On clients and winning them over:

Sherlock: “Great clients are both business radicals and corporate activists. It’s a question of allowing the possibility of failure but also having the ability to turn [an initiative] into something that moves forward.”

Guerrero: “Confidence breeds confidence… You need confidence to make something great and if you don’t have it, you just have to fake it.”

Campaign’s observation: Producing and selling the best work seems to be about striking a balance between the apprehension of presenting something outlandish and the belief that it is in the client’s interest. Being 100 per cent confident is probably a sign that the work is on the bland side. But it’s true that appearing confident is important. If you come across nervously, no one is going to buy into your idea. We are reminded of BBH’s Johnny Tan’s presentation on delivering presentations.


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