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

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.