I've always rather liked the adage that of fast, cheap and good you can only ever pick two.
So you can have it quick and good—but it will likely be expensive. Or cheap and quick—but it may not be particularly good.
I'm sure for many of us it rings true of our work experiences. But it also makes a rather large assumption. Specifically, that the underlying development process remains the same.
In our industry that often means client committees, creative pre-testing, agency-client man marking, etc., etc., etc.
But these, of course, are all of our own making.
And they are not necessary for the creation of highly effective advertising. In fact, they are often highly detrimental to it.
Alexis Nasard, global CMO of Heineken, says that one of the greatest impediments to great advertising creativity is poor client governance. In his words: "The more people you have involved, the more process you have, the less creativity you have."
Which he follows up with, "Democracy is a falsehood in the world of marketing.…You need a benevolent dictator."
I couldn't agree more. Give me a strong-minded client even if I disagree with him or her, rather than a consensus seeker or someone who always wishes to outsource decisions to research.
Running an agency you see the quality of outputs (and the costs) associated with working in different ways with different clients. And the pattern is consistent: Smaller agency teams partnering closely with smaller client groups and working on brands that are very clear in terms of their purpose (without needing research to tell them what to be) get to far better work, far quicker.
So I would say that it is actually possible to do it faster, cheaper and better. But only if we are able to change the fundamental, underlying way of working.
What does this involve? For starters I'd go with the following. Nail on the wall what the brand's point of view on the world is. Put one client firmly in charge. Halve the rest of the client team. Do the same to the agency team (and definitely remove all those not actively doing anything). Work collaboratively and iteratively. Do research, but upfront to understand things. Scrap creative pre-testing altogether. Move.
It's not a complex recipe. And maybe it's one more of us should be talking to clients about. Or perhaps procurement? It feels like a cost-saving approach they might find rather attractive.
Charles Wigley is chairman, Asia, with BBH