On the creative benefits of boundaries

We’re living in a time of extreme restriction, which is affecting our lives in all ways, including how we work and create. But while this might appear a negative, here our ad correspondent Ben Kay explains the positive benefits that boundaries can bring

I once worked for a company that had limitless money, no real deadlines and a great team of dedicated, intelligent strategists. It was a disaster.

No one made any decisions because there was no need to commit to anything. The company’s problems were neither pressing nor of any consequence. If we never made a single ad, everything would just keep rolling along, and in some ways that would be easier than actually sending anything into production.

What we needed were restrictions. Limits. Boundaries.

In effect, even in my well-funded paradise, all creativity is produced in spite of a set of obstructions that hone and direct the end result. I had to overcome the paralysis of choice that came from endless options and no real problems to solve.

Your difficulty might be a tiny budget, a tight deadline, an unavailable director, a poorly-chosen media plan, an 85-page brief, idiotic brand guidelines or, just maybe, a virus that means you have to use stock footage, drone shots and Zoom calls to effectively convey a brand message.