Funny thing, time.

As far as it relates to advertising it can stretch and contract to become virtually meaningless.

For example, any team with a just a day to answer a brief will gripe and moan about just how ridiculous that situation is. How can they possibly curl out their 24-carat shiz with so little time?

But then you hear of many a story where an entire pitch has been scrapped at 2am with just a few hours to rethink, redraw and re-stick the new drawings to an acre of polyboard.

So how long is best?

Legend has it that Terry Lovelock came up with ‘Heineken Refreshes the Parts Other Beers Cannot Reach’ after he had come up with nothing during his first six weeks on the job. In exasperation, Frank Lowe sent the workshy fop on a holiday to Marrakesh with instructions not to come back without a D&AD Gold-winning campaign. After a few days in Morocco, Terry duly obliged, and the rest is advertising history.

I once brought up this story during a conversation with Jeremy Carr, suggesting that the longer one had on a brief the better. Jeremy disagreed, saying that at some point the whole thing just goes round in circles and you end up wasting time that could be better spent executing the darned thing (I get the impression that in Terry’s mid-seventies day there was a whole lot more wiggle room to answer a brief, so the execution time may not have been unduly compromised).

I now think that work expands to fill the time you have to do it. If you’ve got an hour, there’s a good chance that your brain will go into panic mode and offer up something as good as you’d manage in a day or two. Of course, that’s not always the case, but with deadlines contracting and six-week briefs now few and far between, you’ve either got to adapt to work with what you’re given or go and find something less onerous to do.

But what this really comes down to is time’s relationship with money. As we all know, one equals the other, so with the jackboot of capitalism crushing all before it, a few more hours/days/weeks are now more likely to be thought of as a whimsical indulgence that simply gives creatives more time down the pub. The idea that it might actually result in better work is not something enough people care about. In the vast majority of cases the 6/10 will become 5/10 and practically nobody will notice.

May I leave you with a poem I wrote twenty years ago on this very subject?

Time is friend to nobody,

It’s only there to blame.

It elongates to piss you off

And shrinks to do the same.