What makes you look less bad?

We have all been there, doesnt matter if the client or yourself is at fault.

Which option is more sustainable?

A) Botch it and meet the deadline at all costs

B) Deliver late but better work.

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Depends on the client. Sometimes the deadline isn’t really the deadline and you can get some more days. Sometimes their ambition for the project isn’t as high as yours and sometimes they have high ambitions and a super tight deadline.

So ask your client.
I’ve been in all of these situations and there just isn’t a clear answer.
I guess it comes down to your relationship with the client.

Case by case of course, but doing a lot for network TV schedules, for me the deadline has primacy - so I fit to fill to hit the time, then if the client wants better quality, they can choose to give extra time if they have it.

But most importantly for me is to be as transparent as possible with the client throughout the process so there are minimal surprises with either schedule or quality.


Meet the deadline without a doubt. Clients have media plans and not getting stuck to them might bring you some ugly legal issues. If the delivery date arrives, the client is silent and you have time, the resources, and the will to improve it, then…go ahead, but at least the project is ready for delivery at any given time.

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Definitely plan to have a deliverable at the deadline, but express that you can deliver a much better version if there still is time.

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Deadline > Work … Chances are more $$$ went into the media buy vs. the production.

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Yes, this too … many times it’s a false deadline for whatever reason and actual delivery to distro is weeks away.


Agreed, our first drop dead deadline when working on Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus was in September, our final, final deadline was the following April!


Sustainable? I’m gonna say B. Be communicative and honest. But do great work. Nobody wants to remember the artist who made a mess on time. They remember great work. And when you look at someone’s reel, there’s no call out for “delivered on the deadline.”

That’s not a rule, and certainly not in Live TV (I’ve produced some questionable content for live programming), but a lot of what we do lives in ways we don’t anticipate.

And I’d echo what @GPM says - be transparent throughout the process, make your client your partner so they get the issues and are not surprised.

I’d say the other thing about this conundrum we don’t like facing is, likely far more people, especially at the top of the chain, will know that a deadline was missed and a media buy blown — than the number of people who can detect difference in creative quality.

Have some bad edges in your comps — the creative director and a small handful of others will notice. Blow a deadline, every single person up to the top will know. You probably won’t be blacklisted by that client for bad edges, but be responsible for a wasted media buy, you’re toast for good.


Fair enough. Then I’ll add: depends on your client. If there’s airtime or a media buy - get them your best in the time you have. And try not to leave the Starbucks cup on the table.

Yeah I also think it can be a different calculus when you’re doing long form film work — where often the stated “deadlines” are bogus.

Broadcast stuff, media deadlines more often are quite serious.

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There OFTEN isn’t a case for late delivery option. A deadline is a deadline, and late deliveries usually come at a cost. This is especially true for Commercials.

There is something to be said for meeting a deadline on time.

Should I EVER get into this situation… this is a conversation had with the client, and is their decision to make.

Of course, naturally as Flame artists… if there’s an opportunity for perfection we often take the extra time.

I chose to deliver a shitty product on time.


Hey, everybody needs a motto!

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FAST! but sloppy.


I think you have to read the room.

There are people that deliver when they say they do. But there are also many that don’t. That has taught the people that make the deadlines to pad and hedge bets, so the system has found a middle ground.

If you’re in one of those ‘slack’ situations and have the trust of the person you ship to, go for quality.

Or you can always deliver on deadline with good enough and then keep on it and give them the better version when it’s ready (helps to communicate that). That way no heads roll, and fewer sweat puddles.

Always comes down to this. One of those unbendable relationships, however hard people have tried to cheat it…

You pick one as your priority, you choose one as your second most important, and the last picks up the slack.

Which is why I always chuckled at these Amazon slogans. For any project manager familiar with this theory, that slogan read ‘fast and cheap’, ergo everything on your truck is low quality crap :slight_smile: Never let marketing people near something that they don’t understand or overheard at the water cooler.


Yea comms are key.

I find it very interesting and extremely hard to gauge a new clients level of quality - returning clients I know what they expect and can deal with it.

Think thats the magic of a good producer and supervisor combo- to be able to understand the level the client is aiming for and then relaying this to artist in a understanable way…

I tend to over-deliver quality wise a lot i think but i just have my own “bar” that I need to hit before i can let it go.


I concur with all of the Venn diagrams so far.