Rob Estreitinho

🍣 The mistake we all make when evaluating work

Published 2 months ago • 1 min read

Hi friend – Rob here.

Do you ever feel like we over-explain things?

That's today's topic.

Susan Sontag said this about art critics in her time:

"The old style of interpretation was insistent, but respectful; it erected another meaning on top of the literal one. The modern style of interpretation excavates, and as it excavates, destroys; it digs “behind” the text, to find a sub-text which is the true one."

I can't help but wonder that this is what we do in creative reviews.

Or with online discourse around brands and communications.

We look for meaning where there might not be one.

Sure, everything is communication.

But sometimes, the aim of the game is just to entertain.

For every hot take around the hidden meaning behind an ad, there are thousands of people who'd just go, "it's just lovely isn't it".

And you know what?

We should celebrate that.

The fact that people don't over-interpret.

That they just want a moment of levity.

Or to dream.

Over-layered communications is one of the biggest reasons ads don't cut through.

There's just too much.

It becomes cluttered.


Instead, how about if we:

  1. Have a clear view on the literal meaning behind the work? (simplify the message)
  2. And a single add-on around the metaphorical one? (exaggerate the execution)

I'll bet you we'd have much sharper, more interesting, respectful, entertaining, emotionally engaging work.

And much less excavated over-analysis.

Rob Estreitinho

Strategist, writer, co-conspirator

Founder, Salmon Labs. Publisher, Salmon Theory.

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