The Week: Best of the blogs - Playing to lose

What should you do when you are given a shit brief that you don't want to work on? If you are the dutiful type, you will produce the best solution you can, given the limitations of the brief.

This will help your agency, and help the client's business. But it won't help you. All that will happen is that you will soon be given another shit brief. Do a good job on a shit brief for a second or third time, and your career is over. Your book won't move forward. And when the next round of redundancies comes, the fact you've been doing a valuable job is forgotten. All anyone will notice is that you haven't done a good ad in a long time.

So it's vital to develop an ability to avoid shit briefs. And the best way to avoid them is what I call Playing To Lose. Years ago, when I worked at Saatchis, some friends of mine (who were a very good team) got briefed on Oil of Olay. They came back with a script about a woman who is dead. However, because her friends regularly apply Oil of Olay to her face, no-one realises. (The idea was based on Weekend At Bernie's.) A fun and lateral way to demonstrate what the product does for your skin, but not something that Procter & Gamble could ever buy.

K**** and C***** were never given a P&G brief again. And yet, no-one could say they hadn't tried, or hadn't done a good job. And that, my friends, is Playing To Lose.