Confidence is a big thing. It helps us humans calibrate the risks we’re prepared to take and make decisions about what we’ll accept and what’s a bridge too far.
By way of example, I’ll share a personal experience. As a private pilot, I’m fully aware that people feel differently about getting into a light plane with me at the controls than they would with, say, a senior Qantas captain. If the uniformed expert decided it was safe to skirt a thunderhead, passengers would accept the bumpy ride without a blink (albeit with some possible discomfort). If I flew the same path and things got rough, I’d fully expect my passengers to get white knuckles and suggest we turn around and go home.
It’s simply the power of confidence earned through years of flying for a trusted brand – all denoted by a uniform and four stripes on the captain’s epaulettes.
Then there’s business risk. Those who are of my vintage will remember the adage ‘no one ever got sacked for buying ‘Big Blue’ (IBM). And while IBM never traded on the adage publicly, you can bet the inferred benefit was front-and-centre in almost every client presentation they made during the ‘80s. Why? Because if IBM ever got it wrong, they’d be managing their own brand risk and the decision-maker could tuck in behind their safety shield.
In the advertising world, risk can be minimised, but not eliminated. For our clients, the work we do together may have a huge upside, but it occasionally comes with the potential for personal risk. It could mean being overlooked for promotion, or at worst, career oblivion.
For an agency, some appetite for risk on the part of the client is a prerequisite for success. This is because the most effective advertising is usually not tried and true, but different and new. And difference implies risk.
At DPR&Co, we appreciate that often we ask our clients to take creative risks with us. But we also understand that, if we’re going to ask them to back an edgy creative idea, we’d better have every other aspect of what we do buttoned down. Like a Qantas captain – flight plan included.
It may mean a bit more time on getting the foundations right. But that’s how we manage and minimise risk. It’s how we place the smallest possible bets for the biggest possible return to our clients.