Don’t Show me Something-About. Show me Something.

This is not an idea yet.

This is not an idea yet.

“So we have this idea, okay?” says the young creative to the creative director.

CD goes, “Great. So what do you have?”

Creative says, “Well, okay, it’s not totally formed yet but it’s something about … “

Let’s hit pause on this scene right here, shall we? Roll the tape back to the part where the guy  …  stop … right there.

“… it’s something about.

Today’s lesson is about that. Don’t ever present somethin’ about. Present something.

See, the thing is this. Your creative director?  He or she can’t do anything with your somethin’ about. Because it’s not an idea yet. An idea fits in a sentence; an idea can be written on a Post-It note. But a somethin’ about takes a whole bunch of explaining.

And please, never defend your somethin’ about with, “Hey-I’m-just-an-idea-guy.” Unless, I get to be an idea guy too. In which case my idea is, “Go away. And don’t come back until you have something to show me.”

See, the main problem with somethin’ about is you’ve left your audience to figure out the problem for you.

Don’t get me wrong, somethin’ abouts can be an important part of problem solving. Because problems are rarely solved in one flash. Good ideas come after a lot of digging around. Used this way, somethin’ about is a fine way to suggest, “Let’s dig around in this area for awhile.” It’s what you say to your partner, not your boss.

And definitely not to your client.

Can you imagine if your doctor said the cure for your illness was “Ohhh I can’t say exactly how to keep you alive but I have this kinda idea, it’s somethin’ about ….” No.

Or if the guy at the garage thinks your car needs somethin’ about a….

Somethin’ about is soft thinking. If an idea is a bullet, a somethin’ about is a cotton ball. Only one of them can make it into somebody’s head.

Dang. Sorry for the harsh image. Let’s end with a laugh. Like this cartoon from The New Yorker. It never fails to make me laugh.

miracle

 

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for reminding us to separate wheat from chafe. Sounds like being an idea guy is code for doing half the work. Bad.

    Reply

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Luke Sullivan

Author, speaker, and ad veteran available to recharge, reinvigorate, and refocus marketing, advertising, and branding firms.

I give a hugely energetic series of presentations on innovation, creativity, branding, and marketing. I spent 32 years in the trenches of advertising (at agencies like Martin, GSD&M, and Fallon) and I’ve put everything I learned into my book, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. But for me nothing beats taking the message out and speaking to living breathing audiences at clients, agencies, and conferences. You can book me on the button below.

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