A call for unexpected ideas

Barbara Ford
Kraft Foods

Last year, in an article for this publication, I wrote about “provocateurship” – the ideal relationship between an agency and a client, in which both parties are committed to generating breakthrough ideas through a stimulating relationship that encourages positive, dynamic, future-focused, creatively inspired conflict or tension. Unfortunately, what I've often seen since is a disturbing trend in precisely the opposite direction – a dangerous embrace of the expected.

These days, it seems that doing what is expected is enough to warrant accolades, good ratings, and even bonuses from clients. As one marketing executive told me at lunch recently, “Most ad agencies now are quite content to do what they're told, and too many of us clients are just as content to hold them to that terribly low standard.”