Ponder this: “If you had to choose, would you rather be interesting or right?”

Gareth Kay, Director of Brand Strategy at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, credits this question as “the planner’s dilemma” in a resent blog entry. For most, the answer can’t come quick, since each person wishes that they could be both right and interesting. For me, I find this difficult to answer because of the amount of losing something by picking either choice. Can you be right interestingly? Can you be interestingly right?

Kay credits his question to GQ, in a recent interview with Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell, as the famous The New Yorker journalist, answered the question in perfect journalistic fashion:

“If I were President of the United States, I would rather be right than interesting. If I were a CEO of a company, I would rather be right than interesting. But I am a journalist– what journalist would rather be right than interesting?”

Clearly, Gladwell is interesting in all of his work (totaling 4 books and a great blog), but his answer for all journalist is definitely on point. Kay agrees that planners should be interesting, rather than right, but finds that some people in the advertising world are more like the President or CEOs, focusing on being right instead of being interesting. Somehow I feel like the advertising world thrives on all things interesting, but how do planners and others in agencies (besides those creatively creatives) find their way to be interesting when being right for the client is emphasized so much?

The whole thing about being in advertising is about being interesting. In my post below, I talked about having that weird factor, something that shows you are different, interesting enough to get noticed for your creativity. Perhaps that is why even as planners, ad people should always be interesting. Being creative in briefs will start the entire strategy process off with a bang. Inspire other people by being interesting.

A great quote that Kay also uses is from Bill Bernbach, legendary founder of Doyle Dane Bernbach and the starter of the creative revolution in the world of mass media, from the 1950s:

“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.”

Obviously, curiosity is the greatest skill to hone for journalists in general. Be interesting, since according to Kay, “In a world of data abundance and processing power, the curious will win.”