Somewhere along the line, some client or marketing director somewhere decided that instead of asking their agency or internal creative department for one creative idea, they wanted three.

Since that time, internal and external clients across the land have been asking their creative department or agency for three creative ideas. Likewise, agencies and creative people simply expect to provide three ideas whenever they’ve got to present new creative.

Not my creative teams. Ever since I started my creative career, no matter where I’ve worked, I’ve always insisted they’ll get one idea.

Sure, I’ve been asked for three ideas. They don’t even know why they’re asking. It’s like someone told them they’re supposed to do that, so they do. Just like many designers and writers simply expect to do that.

And so everyone plays this unnecessary game. The ask for three ideas comes in. The team comes up with one kick ass idea that they know is a winner and will accomplish the goals. They put all of their time and energy into that idea. Then, with a few hours to go before deadline, they break off and come up with the pieces of two other garbage campaigns to present, knowing that nearly anyone would pick the well-developed, intended idea.

That’s how creative teams work. They commit themselves to solving the problem they’re giving, and they develop what is to them an amazing solution that is the right thing. They know they have a good idea when they can see how easily it iterates and evolves over time and tells a story that can unfold to the target audience as they see the progression.

That’s why, instead of playing the three-option game, I’ve always just said we’re going to do what we think is right and try and sell that solution as the right one.

If a client really wants three options to consider, they should ask three entirely different creative teams. That’s the only way to truly get three amazing ideas – or at least three teams’ best effort.

I don’t think it’s right to waste a client’s time or money by coming up with options no one thinks are street-ready just to satisfy a request for three that no one can even justify.

I know there’s a lot to be talking about out there, but this one’s been on my mind for a long time. I just had to get it out of my system.