“Oh! I just thought of something. What if we went a different direction? What if we use a few seconds of lion footage to play behind ‘We ain’t lyin’ instead of staying with the contact info screen?” Diane looked ten years younger when she was excited about something like this. “People like that. It’s funny. People remember funny.”

“Um…Ok. That’s a different direction, that’s true. I’m not sure that it fits with the rest of the ad, though. I mean, the tone of it.” Isabel was careful, but even she knew she was possibly sliding into dangerous territory. “The rest of it is straight forward and serious. I think it might feel like a ‘plop.’” She quickly lost her nerve. “I mean, it’s a great idea, but we’d have to start over to really do it justice, and the deadline is next week. We’re on schedule, though—it will actually be ready a day early, I think.”

“No, it’s not ready, because you’re right. We have to redo, like, 75% of the ad. We can keep some of the graphics and the contact info is obviously not changing, so you’re not completely starting over, but it’s going to be a push, no question.” If Diane could feel the obvious shift in the room, she showed no outward sign. “The whole team will have to put in some extra hours, I’m sure, but I’ve seen you do more with less. That’s why you’re all here.”

Shocked faces looked around the room, catching each other’s eyes with the silent pleas, She can’t be serious, and This is just a dream, right? There was no comfort to be found in any expression, and Diane’s was still shining like a six year old on Christmas morning.

“Thank you, Chief,” Mickey started, timidly. “We all love being here as part of the team. But I’m not sure the client is interested in a funny ad. Should we maybe schedule a meeting?”

Diane was already shaking her head before he finished his sentence. “Nope. No. No time. We can’t look like we’re only spending a week on it when we’ve had all this time, and if we have a meeting just now they’ll think we’re just now getting started.”

“That’s a good point—we don’t want them to think that,” Isabel answered, desperately trying to talk Diane out of it without causing a blow-up. “But maybe there’s another way to do this. What if we just use the roar of a lion in the audio at that point. We leave the rest the same and as soon as the slogan finishes, the lion roars. What about that? It’s subtler, so that might be more in line with the clients’ initial vision.”

“I love it!” Mickey joined in, sensing the possible out. “That is the best of both worlds, and it hints at the joke without being too heavy handed.” He paused. “For the clients’ original vision, I mean.”

Diane took a deep breath. “I don’t know. I think the whole idea of a joke like that is you either embrace it or you don’t—if you try to half-do it, you look like a whole idiot.”

Isabel reached for the packet of printouts in the center of the table, with all the original project notes, the edits along the way, and an update of the current status of each aspect. “If we go back to the very beginning, Mr. Oliver was very detailed, and nothing in the notes suggests that he would be interested in a joke ad.” She tried to sound disappointed but didn’t quite make it. “I think we owe it to the customer to stay the course, even if your idea would be better. Maybe we could suggest it when we show them the finished product next week, and if they like it, we can start working on it then?”

“And we can suggest the lion roar, too. I think they might go for that, actually.” Mickey was quick to agree.

The room fell silent with all eyes on Diane. Finally, she spoke. “Ok. You’re right about the clients’ choices. Let’s finish what we started and show them what they asked for.”

The room relaxed considerably.

“But let’s give them the other two versions, too.” Diane’s tone said this decision was final. “That’s part of the service we offer—we put together options and give our clients a choice.”

The room un-relaxed.