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Why we need to abandon the idea of the ‘perfect’ ad campaign

In a social-first world, the traditional approach of one big campaign a year is far too slow, says Su May Tan of VaynerMedia. Instead we should be aiming for hundreds of imperfect ads that brands can constantly learn and adapt from

I want to tell you about one of the most challenging periods of my professional career. A few years ago, the agency where I was working landed a pretty huge brief – one of those multi-million-dollar campaigns that’s both exciting and intimidating, with a deadline so far off into the future that you had to squint to see it.

My colleagues and I were thrilled at the prospect of thinking things through and taking the time to come up with the best possible idea. But 18 months later, we were still talking in circles. For a year and a half, we didn’t produce anything. Having so much time made us frustrated, and it didn’t do our creativity any favours. Endless subjective opinions stood in the way of us making good work – or in fact, any work at all.

There’s a common misconception in advertising that time equals quality. Our inner perfectionists toil away for 12 months at a time on a single campaign, convinced that the end result will be worth more than if we were tasked with creating 365 adverts during the same time frame. But the data says otherwise.