British Ad man, Mark Wnek, wants advertising people to loosen up.
At what point did ad agency clients start coming to us because we’re the same as them? Never, I would guess. But somewhere along the line (perhaps it was pitch “chemistry” sessions?) agencies came to believe that the best way to win was to look, sound, be like the client.
At what point? I can answer that, Mark! The point at which the Creative Revolution officially ended is when agencies began to mimic their clients’ appearance and habits.
I can also point to why the dark cloud of corporatism continues to hang over us. We’re scared to say what we know to be true—that science is but one-half of the equation. The other half is art, which relies on instincts and raw talent.
Respect for artists and their natural gifts is the core problem here. We tell our kids they can’t make it as an artist. We cut funding for the arts. We haven’t read a great novel in years, and we can’t name a contemporary American painter to save our lives. Meanwhile, MBA-toting clients are running the marketing communications show. Creative people, on the other hand, are the ultimate non-conformists. We’re not business people at all, we’re just biding our time helping to build brands while we shop our real work at galleries and with Hollywood agents. Given our interests and temperament, how could we possibly get along with a bunch of suits, inside or outside the agency walls?
Instead of typecasting everyone involved in making ads, why don’t we go another way and allow for clients to be thoughtful and creative, and for agency people to be analytical and judicious?
For advertising to work, it must connect with real people in the audience. To do that, the images and words conveyed must touch people and move them to act. A lot of science and art goes into these efforts. Creative people love to think it’s all about the big idea. The reality is big ideas are not all that hard to generate. What’s truly difficult is getting everyone on the team—from the media planners to the account managers to the production artists—to take ownership of the winning ideas and figure out brilliant ways to bring them to life.