My agency joined a number of our fellow agencies in a pro bono effort to help a big civic undertaking. The clients were very well intentioned: they have a worthy endeavor, a LOT of material and a LOT of ideas. What they lacked was focus. And time. And a budget.
So there we sat, hopeful believers representing eight or so local agencies, listening as the putative briefing session for what could be a dream assignment slowly revealed itself as another unrealized opportunity redolent with layers, politics, and inconsistency. Almost as one, every creative in that room lost their initial zeal. It reminded me of that old business adage: “Hope is not a business plan.” Sadly, these days, in both the charity and for-profit worlds, too many business leaders seem to forget that things like focus, discipline, and proper funding–if not financially then at least in terms of timing–are essential to success. A blank canvas may appeal to an artist, but when your art involves driving action and results, a blank canvas proves useless at best. All in all, it was a rather dispiriting experience.
But the worst part is, we will all probably try anyway. Dreaming is what we do. Even if our dreams sometimes become nightmares.