The client made me do it!
People instinctively like consistency and predictability, it allows them to be comfortable, and make judgments without too much risk of being wrong because the status quo has been maintained.
Helping out with a competitive pitch recently I was shown a list of the things that had to be covered, a checklist for the expected content of the presentations, a list of largely irrelevant , administrative crap, and we had only 45 minutes.
With some trepidation, we threw out the list, and built a presentation that demonstrated that the agency I was working with had the experience, and capabilities to break the challenges faced by the “pitchee” down into manageable chunks that could be addressed creatively, responsibly, and with a budget that was less than the one nominated, (which we knew was not gong to be forthcoming in any event)
We knew during the conversation that followed that the business had been won, despite the ignoring of the stated ground-rules. The sorts of comments that were made were that our approach had been “fresh” and “creative” and that we had “thought outside the box” all cliché’s, but nice nevertheless. However, what it really demonstrates is the we won because we were different.
Our competitors had followed the rules, and been boring as a result, we were not boring, had taken a risk that with hindsight was not a risk at all, so we won.
So, any time you hear something that sounds like “the client made me do it” translate it as “I did not have the balls to be original, different, and interesting”.