By shutterstockchris / /
Ideas are very special things. I won’t get carried away and lose all context – I know we’re just selling sanitary protection or a mobile phone that’s just the same as the competitors’. But ideas matter to the people they come from and sometimes to the people we share those ideas with. They are fragile. They are hard won. And very often, I sense that other people don’t see their worth. They think ideas are disposable, easily replaced, we can just keep going, regenerating more and more indefinitely until the deadline can’t be pushed back any further. Beware the idea killers, for they know not what they do. You may even share the feeling that there are only a finite number of ideas in your head and baulk at the sheer waste when good ones get overlooked and cast aside. How many more left in the tank? Amidst this eternal battle between the besuited and the bejeaned, I call a truce. A moment to reflect and remember the fallen, the deleted, the ‘parked’. And also to honour the countless number we cannot even remember: the tome of the unknown ideas.
To those ideas that died. That lived awhile, then were sacrificed for the greater good or the creative director’s last-minute thought-starter. Or at the altar of budget. Or a victim of shifting strategy. Or client reshuffles. We salute you.
To those ideas, poisoned by politics, Sabotaged by short-sighted paper-shufflers, yes-men and no-women, Throttled by planners that couldn’t see what was right in front of them; The work was right; it was the brief that was wrong.
The contradiction, the bittersweet and inevitable light that shines brightly but briefly, For the joy of a newborn idea is tainted by the sadness in knowing it is almost surely doomed. Most will not survive, struck down as they draw their first breath. Others will suffer the death of a thousand cuts. The rewrites that may yet save them, written in Word but in vain.
Some, we will mourn. Others will just become a statistic, a casualty of a highly successful marketing director who clearly knows nothing about marketing. And when they were taken from us, we hid our grief behind anger, behind snide retorts and behind our non-existent open plan office doors.
Here’s to those ideas crushed by those with no concept of concepting. In our minds, if not yours, our ideas are living things whom we love because they came from us. How could we not love them? And yet you take them from us so dispassionately.
The hurdles we overcame, the bleakness of the blank pad we began this journey with and the certainty of our genius compel us protect them with our lives, like a mother would her young. There were times when we were lost. We didn’t know which way to turn, which answer was right, or of there was an answer. We sought guidance from the gods; Trotty, Abbotty, Webstery – why hast though forsaken us?
We even had to murder our own – a mercy killing. Those ideas would have had no quality of life. It was for the best. We see that now.
And then through the mist, you appeared to us. Your shimmering radiance slowly forming before our minds’ eyes, Revealing yourself gradually, transmitting that familiar frisson. A heady cocktail of exultation and relief. “I can still do this.” “This is it, my one last work of noble note. Shhh, come to me.”
All those fallen ideas.We shall remember them. And in our memories they shall shine brighter and brighter as we kid ourselves it had Gold written all over it. Take a moment to pay silent tribute to all those who have gone to that great bottom drawer in the sky. Amen.
To abridge ‘The Cloths of Heaven’, a poem by W B Yeats: “But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”