The Art of No, Part II - AJ Vernet

By AJ Vernet Media Biz Bloggers Archives

Last time we wrote on this topic – we talked about the discipline and the art of saying no to clients and partners and still keeping those relationships on track. We talk a lot about this with our head of Clients & Innovation at Rey Interactive -- Doğan Dattilo. As he points out, more and more we are asking another question – turning the mirror toward the inside. As he puts it:

"Can we say 'no' to ourselves?"

· We work in advertising agencies, marketing departments, and production shops that bring ideas to life

· We understand how to strategize and position a product to successfully engage, excite, inform and hook consumers

· We talk about tweets, "social," buzz, viral, apps, Facebook, mobile, shares, likes, and engagement almost as if they are tools in box for us to use at our discretion

But, we may use all this stuff thoughtlessly. You see, we are human too. We are consumers too. We use the same tools that they use. Therefore, we are not impervious to the same pitfalls.

We use social media, mobile, the Internet, hell – even microwaves – to feed our unquenchable desire for instant gratification. The crazy thing is, it's not just instant. It's warp speed. And if they could, I'm sure Apple would release iGratification.

With all this speed, comes a shrinking attention span for all of humanity. While we have the libraries of MIT at our fingertips and might (might) be getting smarter, we really just grab little bites of info all day and flutter on. When the shine wears off, we move on almost seamlessly via the click, swipe or voice command towards the new bright light.

We must be careful of our own cravings – pace ourselves and think.

Our hyper brains have lost focus. These same brains come to the office with us where brands and clients trust that we will take their marketing objectives and deep-dive research the target market, hone a strategic approach with pin-point accuracy, nurture great creative, produce a top-tier campaign, and cast our well-targeted media nets to catch as much "consumer" as we can.

That's some heavy lifting for scatterbrains. That is why we must let an artful "no" guide us. And this art of no has to be a collective effort.

Right now, around the world, countless companies are working on reams of campaigns for brands. Some of the best and brightest are developing the work for each phase. They all take time to develop and none of the steps are instant. Yet, in conversations with peers and industry professionals, it seems like everyone has the same chronic problems, limiting our abilities to move things forward in the manner we would hope. Many chefs, many opinions, and distractions. It looks something like this…

Strategy -- We home in on one then re-think it, change it, tweak it, see a new Twitter trend and try to react and modify the strategy again.

Creative Development -- It's beautiful. Spot on. Approved. The logo is the right size. Then, it's not. After a weekend of looking at my competitor's Facebook page, this execution no longer speaks to us. The strategy has changed, therefore the creative is killed. Let's start over.

Production -- We are all on the same page. We know what we are going to make. Creative is locked. But...the strategy changed so we need to change the copy. The animation is too slow, fast, slow, fast. Why is it animated? This unit doesn't work for us anymore.

None of this is a complaint. It is a description of life as we know it. We are all guilty of complicating the process and I'm sure this dilemma exists in other professions as well. Call it merely an observation and a theory, but I think this rapid slot machine, lever-pulling desire to consume so much information, be it educational and valid, or vain and pointless, has driven our minds to the point of struggling to keep our eyes on a goal of starting a campaign and launching it 3, 4, or 6 months later.

We either want to change it too often or just get bored too quickly.

We must seriously ask ourselves once and for all – can we say "no" to ourselves? Can all those that touch a campaign keep the collective eye on the goal... for a few months? It's a question worth repeating, looking each other in the eye, every few months. A super reality check and act of collective self-discipline.

After all, we are the experts in the field. We should be decisive and methodical in our approach to create the best possible campaign, not dilute it with distractions, additions, and changes. We set the tone and the pace, for all those who follow our lead, guided by the art of no.

Doğan Dattilo is the Vice President, Clients & Innovation, at Rey Interactive.

AJ Vernet is Founder and CEO of Rey Interactive, which is a Los Angeles and New York based digital and video production company positioned to partner with agencies, creative firms, publishers and brands as a scalable and seamless production resource. AJ can be reached at

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