Charles Wigley
Nov 20, 2018

The power of 'no'

For agencies, remembering to refuse when necessary can have positive impacts.

The power of 'no'

This year has been marked by the usual complaining and wringing of hands in our industry about the usual suspects. Procurement sourcing creativity like they might nuts and bolts—and expecting most of said bolts to be free. Clients asking for pitches on ridiculous timelines or with ridiculous numbers of agencies involved. Demands for a new approach by Monday, when it's Friday. The rejection of rounds of creative work because the brief keeps changing. The advance of consultancies. The advance of platforms. The advance of robots. The advance of goodness knows what. The list goes on.

Yet all of this whinging suggests that we are somehow powerless victims of circumstances beyond our control. That the forces ranged against us are tectonic in their scale and implacable in their resolve.

This is, of course, complete nonsense. We are all empowered actors in our own, normally quite manageable, small-scale commercial worlds. Worlds in which you don't have to say 'yes'. You can also say 'no'.

If you do so, you will find a number of things happening. Firstly, you will feel distinctly better about yourself. Secondly, others around you will start to feel distinctly better about you. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, you will often find yourself with a far better agreement about time, or fee, or whatever it was. Sometimes you will even get a piece of business without pitching.

Because you will have stood up for the quality and worth of what you are selling (I am assuming it is of worth here). You will have shown the modicum of self-belief required to actually get anywhere and sell anything.

Of course none of those things may happen as well. But in that case you are probably better off not working with whoever it was anyway.

Charles Wigley is Asia Chairman at BBH.

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