Realism VS Idealism – In regard to philosophy, it’s an age old conflict – a constant struggle for balance between the imaginative child (idealist) and the pragmatic adult (realist). But it applies to advertising too. Advertising is comprised of these two contradictory concepts. Creativity meets business. And good advertising finds a balance between the two.
There are pros and cons to being an idealist, and being a realist. As an idealist, you can let your imagination and romantic dreams of grandeur soar without limits, unbound. But that child-like sense of wonder can sometimes result in all fluff, and no real action. You aim high, sometimes so high, that you don’t attain anything, and you crash and burn. The realist is practical, accepts the reality of limits, and works within them. But the realist may run the risk of, not running any risks. And without taking risks, boundaries remain unbroken. You may be able to grasp what you’re reaching for, but it’s only at an average height, and your accomplishments may be lukewarm at best.
Among the many ways advertising can be considered bad, or so-so, failure to push boundaries is one of them. Remaining overly pragmatic will get you nowhere. If you stop taking risks, you stop learning. If you never push the limits, you’ll never create innovative work. However, creativity needs discipline. It needs a rational, yet open-minded voice to tell it what’s good and what’s bad. Otherwise, you’ll ending up with something like this Lincoln Auto Insurance ad, and no one wants that.
So, how do we do innovative work, without crashing and burning? First of all, that’s probably why the Creative Department is separate from the Account Department. But more than that, we must be realistic about our idealism (never-mind the paradox). Good advertising finds a balance between the two. It creates remarkable work, (or as my advertising professor used to say, “big-sky ideas”) that the agency can be proud of, and at the same time, it benefits the client in some way. With the realist on your left shoulder and the idealist on your right, try to give each an equal opportunity to be heard. And if you strive to approach each situation with this balance in mind, then you are on your way to creating remarkable advertising.