The client has a problem. He has to show results. Now. The average tenure for a CMO is 23 months. If the campaign doesn't work, your client will have hell to pay.
If you consistently fail to solve this problem, your agency will be pitched under the nearest bus. You will be let go. A few of your friends will lose their jobs.
The agency has a problem. It needs to do work that makes it famous. That gets on the blogs. That wins awards. Because great work is an agency's main tool for bringing in new projects, new clients and new talent.
If you consistently fail to solve this problem, you will be fired before you drag your whole agency into a self-defeating downward spiral of boring work that attracts timid clients.
The consumer has a problem. He's numb. He looks for inspiration, joy and meaning. And finds Charlie Sheen and Jersey Shore. He is assaulted by so many ads and logos that they've become nothing but the paper that covers the walls of his world.
If you consistently fail to solve this problem, nothing much will happen to you. You will go on winning awards and your clients will shake your hand heartily. But at the very deepest level, you'll be a failure. You were handed the chance to talk to thousands, maybe millions of people. And you passed the opportunity by. In your soul, you'll know. You're part of the problem. You're making this world worse. Not better. You're putting up wallpaper instead of kicking open windows.
Every brief you get has three problems hidden inside it. Average ads solve one. Good ads solve two. Great ads solve three.