I'm a fan of Stephan Sagmeister. I like his book. I like his TED talks. Maybe I'm suckered by the Viennese accent, but I think he does fascinating work.
Sagmeister was asked by Adobe to "make an interpretive graphic of their logo." A lot of creatives would have come back to Adobe with just that. A different version of their logo. Sagmeister gave them a game show. The first episode is below. But you should view the entire experience here.
Episode 1, Sagmeister X Walsh from Sagmeister & Walsh on Vimeo.
I work at The Richards Group. And though I'm not on this account, one of our most famous campaigns is the Chick-fil-A cows. This is one of the longest-running, most-awarded advertising campaigns around. And the Cows were completely off-brief. Not even close. The idea was at odds with the original strategy. It took guts to present something off-brief to the clients. And it took guts for the client to buy it. But it's done pretty well for both parties.
We all approach assignments with pre-conceptions. And sometimes we're able to overcome them. But even then, we still stay within expected parameters. Yes, we have clients to answer to. And yes, we have to be grown-ups and deliver what we promised. But don't let that stop you from doing something more.
It doesn't have to be what you think it has to be.