Creativity is subjective, but that’s not a positive for the ad business. For the industry to function properly, creativity needs to be quantifiable and answers to questions like, “What distinguishes a great creative person from a good one?” and “What distinguishes great work from good work?” must be readily and honestly answered.
James Robinson, executive creative director at The Martin Agency in New York, spoke to The Drum about it.
“I think what happens to most creatives is they find a solution that they think is a good solution and they eject really quickly,” he said. “I think a really great creative keeps rolling that idea around and finding new ways that it can express itself.”
Who would dare to disagree with the industry’s standard response? Work harder and you’ll produce more great work. It’s simple.
The only problem with the “work harder” angle is the underlying presumption that there is time to do so. Creative teams on a well-heeled account at a famous-for-its-awards agency may indeed have the time to kick their feet up whilst working the problem from every imaginable angle. But what about every other ad grunt on the planet who is being asked to produce more material in less time? How are copywriters and art directors (with time sheets to fill out) supposed to find the time to carefully walk down the scores of dead ends before Lion-quality genius strikes?
I recognize that many creative people in advertising do burn the midnight oil to achieve greatness. Many do it to keep their head above water. Nevertheless, the answer to the great work riddle is not just to work harder. Great things happen as the result of the groundwork that is laid. Producing great work is a shared responsibility between all parties. A client and agency management must set the creative team up for success. If a client and agency provide the time and money for creative teams on the business to truly focus on the problems at hand, the quality of work will increase. That’s a formula everyone can count on.
What is simple, but hard to accept is the fact that time costs money. Therefore, if higher quality work is the goal, make sure you’re ready and willing to pay for it.