One of the most common terms (besides ideas) in agencies, which is thrown around is “good work”. Probably everyone has different meaning for it, but I have always believed that good work is just two things.
It is effective and entertaining:
Good work has to provide above-the-average business results for the client. Average is not enough, because average results you can achieve with crappy work pumped up with strong media push. Also to go above the average means that the strategy work is not just stating the obvious. To be truly effective, the strategy must provide either great answer to current business problem or find lucrative business opportunity. Great strategy is all about finding the relevant difference.
Advertising is not art, so if the work cannot be measured with commercial criteria it cannot be truly good either.
Although advertising is not art, it is not door-to-door-selling either. Spamming your whole client list might be effective done once, but would ruin your hard-earned reputation at the same time. In marketing communications you are maximixing the effectiveness on the long run, not getting quick wins which are cheap.
Entertaining does not mean cheap laughs either. Zero Dark Thirty is entertaining movie, although it is not funny. Great advertising finds the right emotion to suit commercial purposes. Majority of our intentional consumption decisions are done emotionally (rational car buyers?) so if you do not spark any emotion you do not have the chance to be truly effective either.
Entertaining people is harder than ever. Our marketing communications competes head-to-head with the best content in the world. So when you are doing your next brand mobile application, ask yourself is this really on the same level as other good (not marketing) applications? If not, it does not probably take off.
In advertising, we tend to define the work too often with its novelty aspect. We are obsessed of doing something, which has not been done before anywhere. Sometimes it is for good reason. No one has not build the world biggest toilet paper mummy for any toilet paper brand (at least I hope so), but that is for good reason. That is completely stupid idea. In the search of novelty, we tend too often to shift doing gimmicks. More often than creating something completely new, good work is about looking the old things from new perspective.
Good work requires strong strategy with huge creative leap. On the long run, the selection is not either effective or entertaining. If you want to be ahead of your competition, you have to be both.
Also I have only talked about good work. The great work is totally different beast. Great work changes the whole world.