Data Is Draft’s Friend (It Can Be Your Friend Too)

New York Times advertising critic, Stuart Elliott, joined agency big wigs at a swank resort in Southwest Florida this week. He came away with a litany of Draftisms, also known as maxims from The Howard.

Mr. Draft, remarking on the trend toward consumer generated content, paraphrased a familiar advisory by the advertising leader David Ogilvy: “The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife.”
Mr. Draft’s version: “The consumer is not just our wife. She, he, they all are our creative partners.”

I want to give you pause to reflect on that nugget…


Draft further reveals himself with this tirade on creative accountability (an oxymoron).

“Every agency has to become fully accountable for its work, every day, on a real-time basis,” Mr. Draft said. “The way to great creative, and to great results, is not to run away from accountability but to embrace it.”
“Our objective is to reduce uncertainty so we can take more creative risks,” he added, repeating the last three words for emphasis.
For instance, Mr. Draft described how the 9,000 employees of his agency, formed last year by the merger of Draft and Foote Cone & Belding, are being trained to incorporate customer data into the creative process, “to come up with big ideas that incite consumer behavior.”
“Creativity is enhanced by the behavioral intelligence,” he added. “Our teams are free to push the creative to the edge and beyond, secure in the knowledge that the underlying strategies are sound.”

Draft, the man, has gotten rich by playing on fears. Clients don’t want to trust their guts, and they don’t want to trust their hired guns’ guts. They must have data to run through their MBA machinery. Only then will the truth be revealed and the path to glory revealed. Draft supplies the data, thus the comfort sought by brand managers with hundreds of millions to spend (and later account for). As a business person, it’s hard to fault him. As a creative, it’s hard to hear him.

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About David Burn

Native Nebraskan seeking the perfect pale ale in the Pacific Northwest. Copywriter and brand strategist at Bonehook. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Contributor to The Content Strategist. Doer of the things written about herein.

  • theo kie

    It’s this kind of inspiring thought that has several of the better creatives at the local D/FCB outpost of calling a headhunter friend of mine, asking “how soon can you get me out of here?”

  • veedub

    “The consumer is not just our wife. She, he, they all are our creative partners.”
    think i’m gonna hurl…

  • http://draftfcb.com draft dodger

    There are plenty of oxymorons and contradictions in the Draftisms. For example:
    1. “The consumer is not just our wife. She, he, they all are our creative partners.” If the mass exodus theo kie references comes true, Draft may be forced to tender offers to those “creative partners.”
    2. “The way to great creative, and to great results, is not to run away from accountability but to embrace it.” Um, aren’t we all still waiting to learn who was accountable for the infamous Cannes Fornicating Lions ad? And has anyone completely tabulated the results on that effort? Sorry, couldn’t resist.
    3. “Our objective is to reduce uncertainty so we can take more creative risks.” Albert J. Sullivan wrote, “The right to fail is of the essence of creativity (just as the prevention of failure is of the essence of conservatism).” Draft’s statement seems to define conservatism, not creativity.
    4. Employees are being trained to incorporate customer data into the creative process, “to come up with big ideas that incite consumer behavior.” Why would they have to be trained? Weren’t original Draft employees already exercising the amazing process?
    5. “Our teams are free to push the creative to the edge and beyond, secure in the knowledge that the underlying strategies are sound.” Can anyone present a single example of Draft’s version of “creative to the edge and beyond”? Based on statements from former and current Draft employees, there’s rarely a strategy attached to the assignment briefs.
    Draft is an interesting fellow. It sure would be great if he winds up creating paradigm shifts and brings new breakthroughs to the business. But honestly, he really needs to shut up and do something already. Let’s see some proof of the vision in action on a real-time basis.