It was -20 something degrees in the second coldest capital city in the world and unfortunately, I had to walk to school. I got to school very grumpy and sat in the corner of my classroom trying to get warm, as our homeroom teacher took the attendance. Once he was done, I couldn’t help but notice that a small group of my classmates were in the corner of the class listening to this one boy go on and on about how he and his family would soon be going to visit Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa.
My reaction was very predictable, as soon as I heard “Kilimanjaro”, I decided to move closer and pay attention, because after all, I was from Kilimanjaro region and I had seen the mountain many times. “Hey, I’m from there actually” I interrupted him, smirking proudly to which he responded, “Oh that’s nice, I didn’t know you were Kenyan.” I was quite shocked by his reply but then I remembered that this was a common misunderstanding, that unfortunately, I had encountered even when I was in Tanzania. “No, Mount Kilimanjaro is actually in Tanzania. Kenya just markets it better, but the Mountain is in Tanzania” I explained calmly to which he rudely responded “Get out of here man, you’re lying to us. The mountain is in Kenya, not your country.”
I don’t know what it was about his response that got to me but I didn’t take it too well (neither did my friends). I stood my ground and insisted that he was wrong and was being very rude about it, and after an exchange of words and a physical confrontation, both of us got suspended for two days (my parents laughed about it).
So where is Mount Kilimanjaro located anyway?
Over a decade later, I find myself in quite a similar position with the advertising industry. Working as a copywriter, I have been entrusted, and put in the position to provide a copy for the ads we do. Meaning, with regards to copy, I probably know best right? So then, what happens when I find myself in another “Kilimanjaro” situation where somebody challenges my knowledge when I feel like I am in the best position to provide the correct answer?
This is a challenge I feel most creatives, especially Copywriters face. It’s really just a game of ‘If you can convince me, then you’re probably right’ but as we saw in my “Kilimanjaro” situation, convincing people that you’re right is not the easiest thing to do even when you actually are. On a daily basis, I have to convince my fellow Copywriters, then our Creative Director, who has to do the same with the General Manager and CEO, and then together we all have to make the client see things the way we do. So what is the best way to persuade people that you are correct? Most importantly, how far should you go to try and show them, that what you’re proposing is what is fact, or what will work best? What happens when over and over again, they fail to see the genius in the ideas/answers you bring forward? Do you dumb down your most powerful asset (your mind) and let them be? Or do you accept that sometimes it is okay to be wrong?
“If everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane” – Jay-Z
The opinions expressed here by contributors represent their own personal views and not those of Aggrey & Clifford, past or present