How Agencies Can Beat Those Summertime Doldrums

Boredom sucks. Avoiding boredom is the main reason we all got into this business, right? But try as we do to shoot our campaigns in fabulous locations with people cooler than us, occasionally boredom creeps in. 

And today, in our always on, constantly cramming new content into our brains existence, I’d argue it’s getting harder not to be bored. Admittedly, it’s increasingly difficult to feel like we’re seeing anything new. 

Why are we discussing something as boring as boredom? Well, July happens to be Anti-Boredom Month (I bet a bored person came up with that). So if you’re bored, here are some proven strategies to un-bore yourself and your team – whether the boredom beast comes in the form of a bad brief, dull office spaces or the jealousy we feel scrolling through our Facebook feeds watching our friends frolicking on the beach. 

God, I want a margarita. 

Ok, let’s get into it: 



Number one: after 27 years of agency life, I’ve learned there’s nothing quite like a friendly office bet to bring excitement to an otherwise dull assignment. The more creative the bet, the better. Our copywriters have been known to draw up a list of unusual words ranging from Rochambeau to Rachmaninoff, pool their money and award the kitty to the first writer who gets one of the words into a client-approved headline. 

If betting money’s too tame for your game, bet embarrassment. Years ago, I bet an AE we would sell a risky campaign to a very conservative client. He said he’d wear his tuxedo to work for a week if we were successful. We sold the work and, true to his word, he wore his monkey suit. It became agency legend and was laughed about for years. 

Number two: break the routine. When Jeff Goodby suggested at this year’s 4A’s Transformation Conference that a simple way to unlock creativity is to take a new route to work in the morning, I tried it. And he’s right, as Jeff Goodby tends to be. Easy changes that jolt us out of the ordinary can make the same old, same old feel fresh and fun – and make our work better, too. For example, as a writer, I instinctively reach for a pencil to concept. But when I force myself to start with visuals, I always get to better solutions faster. 

Number three: ban boring briefs. Every brand disagrees with something, whether it’s big food, body shaming or bags that don’t fly free. So don’t just brief your team, declare war on the enemy! When you’re a unit doing hand-to-hand combat together in battle, it’s far more exciting than being a cross-functional team building incremental share of (insert demo here). So find a way to make the team leave the briefing feeling like they’re not on a project, but a mission. 

Number four: walking meetings. I know, I know…sounds like a lame plan from HR to reduce staff BMI. But they really work. Walking meetings are normal meetings, just in motion. They can take you anywhere. Down a cobblestone path. Conveniently past a great café, which conveniently sells brain-stimulating iced coffee. Or if you’re in our neighborhood in Rochester, across a cool bridge that offers a sweet view of a 100-ft. waterfall in the middle of an urban cityscape. But where your walking meeting takes you really isn’t the point. The fact that it takes you out of the office is what gets more blood to the brain, more oxygen to the lungs and better ideas flowing. Which not only busts boredom, it keeps you employed. 

Number five: get weird. At Partners + Napier­, the men’s bathroom in the creative department plays themed music that changes weekly, accompanied by a custom poster of the artist with their name changed to potty humor. Weird and infantile? Yes. But we must remember the maturity level of men, especially agency men, is perpetually 15. So trust me when I tell you that walking into the can on a Monday, seeing a Depeche Commode poster on the door and opening it to hear Personal Jesus bouncing off the porcelain, is guaranteed to make the dudes in your office chortle like schoolboys. (Research indicates this tactic will work in the Ladies’ Room too). 

So, there you have it. Some battle-tested boredom busters to bust out when you and your troops are waist-deep in advertising ennui. Hopefully they’ll help the dog days of Anti-Boredom Month fly by faster. Until your next RFP comes in. Then you’ll wish you had them back.

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