Added Value

Joseph Lelyveld, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and former executive editor of The New York Times from 1994 to 2001, speaking to India’s Sunday Express reveals a truth about “the customer is always right” mentality.

I’ve always mistrusted that phrase “the reader wants”, because how do we know exactly what the reader wants? I think you should give the reader a fresh and original paper that’s very well-written and covers all sorts of things —social trends, fashion, the works but I think you are at your best when you give the reader something the reader wants that the reader didn’t know he or she wanted it till you gave it to her.

We have to practice this in our own field. In our case, “the reader” deserves better. Would you agree? To get there, to Betterland, I believe we are obligated to over-deliver. A client asks for “A.” But we have to give them “A” and “B.” “B,” being the work we believe in and want to sell. Doing so, means more work. And it means not working exclusively from a client’s long to-do list. We need to also honor the agency’s list and our own.
It’s only important if doing the best work of one’s career is important.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.