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Why Making a Great Ad is Like Telling a Good Joke

2 min read

I'm Jeremy Carson, and this is everything I wish I knew about the advertising and creative industry when I got started. And everything I'm discovering as a Creative Director today.
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You tell a joke and it falls flat.

“No, no, no. You just don’t get it. See, it’s funny because [insert hilarious logic here]...” or “Wait, I told it wrong. It’s supposed to go…”

As creatives, we inherently know that a good ad is like a good joke: it’s all in the execution and above all else, the idea shouldn’t need to be explained.

A good ad is like a good joke. No explanation needed.

Don’t Over Explain

We put together brilliant portfolios, showing off our creative genius. However, we always lead with an equally brilliant prologue, explaining the idea.

Tell me, when will your ad’s audience get an explanation?

Will you be sitting there setting up the commercial?

Are you going to stop them from scrolling, to see your social content?

Nope, they’ll be interrupted mid-scroll, breaking the flow of their favorite show, or while they’re reading through an interesting story, seeing your ad. And if they don’t understand it, you’ve failed.

So, why would you require an explanation in your portfolio.

Now, it’s okay to set it up, just don’t go overboard. Creatives reviewing your work like to understand where you’re coming from, conceptually. However, they don’t need it spelled out for them. At least, they shouldn’t.

Idea Meets Execution

Most of us went through our ad education, whether it was school or the industry, figuring out the difference between an idea and execution. While the romantics in creatives love to say, “It’s all about the idea,” the truth is it’s very much about the execution, too.

You can sculpt clay into a statue or you can cover a diamond in shit.

I’ve been told by an old creative director, “A bad idea can be good with a great execution. And a good idea can turn bad with a bad execution. And a good idea can become great with a great execution. But it’s hard to mess up a great idea.” (Though, trust me, you can mess up a great idea.)

Whether that execution is a TV spot, display unit, social content or simply a billboard, it carries with it the responsibility to best translate the idea.

Without the execution, the idea is pointless.

The Punchline

Be smart, be clear, and make sure your idea is executed beautifully. That’s your job as a creative.
Otherwise, you’re the Carrot Top of advertising.

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this, say hello @thejeremycarson. LinkedIn Instagram