Finding the Silver Lining in the Critiques

My name is Amy McLeod, and I’m a communicator with an ego.

I admit it. I want to believe that my strategies are sound, my tactics are bulletproof, and my creative pieces awe-inspiring. So, when someone questions or—heaven forbid— indicates a “flaw,” you better believe I take it personally.

That said, over the last few months, I’ve grown to find the silver lining in some of those inevitable questions and critiques. Let me explain.

Two years ago, I gave “birth” to my firstborn children: the two ads that launched the Talk It Out campaign, Fussing Over and Feeding Time. I can’t imagine being more proud of two pieces of creative. They were well received and widely praised.

Fast forward 18 months, and we are in the third phase of Talk It Out and have launched our fifth and sixth ads, Lungs and Ventilator. Again, I’m a proud parent.

But we’ve gotten some feedback on one specific part of “Lungs.” Specifically, feedback on a ring that the subject of the commercial is wearing. The ring is worn on her middle finger but, depending on the aspect ratio of the screen on which you view the spot, the ring can appear to be on her ring finger. This has caused confusion for some viewers who believe it is a wedding ring and that a married woman shouldn’t be the subject of a commercial about underage drinking.

Of course they are correct, but, as the doting “mother,” and as one who knows that the ring is on her middle finger, I had a hard time accepting this critique.

Until I realized something. The viewers who are relaying this feedback to us have watched the ad. And they’ve watched it carefully. They’ve potentially watched it carefully a few times. And they’ve taken action, either exploring the website to find an email address or visiting the Facebook page to write a comment or message.

So, ultimately, our ad stuck with them, impacted them, and caused them to take action. Perhaps it wasn’t the action we were hoping for, but it was action nonetheless.

They remembered the campaign name. They visited the website or Facebook page. They—whether they meant to or not—interacted with more of our messaging and material.

And, most importantly, they gave us the chance to interact with them further. For each question or critique that we received, we followed up, thanking the viewer for paying attention to the campaign and explaining the confusion. Our hope is that extra level of engagement built brand affinity and trust. And that, from this communicator’s perspective, is success.