Richard Huntington is chairman and chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi. He also one of my favorite advertising thinkers. Here’s what he’s thinking now, care of Campaign:
It’s the quality of our stories that matters. Stories that resonate because they come from real people and speak to real people and not from the faked world of adland cliché that pollutes most of the work we make. The endless parade of stock storytelling that is as authentic as a child’s drawing of a house with four windows, a red front door and curly smoke emerging from the chimney. The fact is that most advertising fails to connect because it’s allergic to the real, to the particular and to the personal.
To start building emotional connections again, we need to write work from our experiences, our lives and our hearts, and not from the big bad book of adland cliché. We need to call it out more often when work descends into the bland and familiar. And, most pressingly, we need to fuel our agencies and their work with fresh talent bearing distinct experiences and a broader palette of stories to tell.
The ad industry employs a lot of people who write, and who draw, for a living. But, the ad industry does not employ a lot of characters who happen to be storytellers. Not today. There’s a good reason for this, but no good business reason. The reason is simple. Talented writers are often serious pains in peoples’ asses.
Talented writers have strong points of view, plus the ability and the will to argue them. This works out fine when the writer has the power to move the client toward much better ideas. It sounds so simple, but it’s not. It’s not simple, because there are a string of power-hungry people between the writer’s ideas and the final product. So, let me add to Huntington’s call to action: Hire “fresh talent bearing distinct experiences and a broader palette of stories to tell,” and then get the hell out of their way.
Put An End to Your Recruitment Woes
When it comes to hiring the misfits who write beautifully, it won’t be easy for the ad industry. It’s easy to say we want more, we want diversity, and we seek to improve constantly. But those are platitudes. In reality, the recruiting mechanisms that ad agencies use are broken.
The truth is the best agencies in the business believe in repeat success, which leads them to rely on antiquated systems, also known as formulas. It goes like this…attend a portfolio school that trains you to make award-winning ads also known as ads that please other advertising people, then get a job and start making ads the way you were trained to make them, from a sanctified mold. This leads to more trophies, and all is calm on the Sea of Sameness.
Meanwhile, the people on the other end of the communications, the people that we all rely on to listen to our stories and eventually to buy, are bored stiff by one craptastic advertisement after the next.
Just for fun, let’s look at a bad commercial.
Sorry to put you through that. I hope it didn’t leave a scar.
Are You Still Reading? Good, Here’s the Offer
I know a dozen talented writers (and many designers) who are ready to help you tell better brand stories. I’m one of them, but this isn’t about me, it’s about me highlighting the need for better talent, and then helping you find better talent.
Adpulp isn’t here just to entertain you, although that’s part of our mission—we’re here to help. When you describe a particular assignment to me in detail, I will listen intently and then refer you to a friend or former colleague. When we talk, I will run you through some questions that will help determine your eligibility. The bottom line is I am here to help you and your team achieve your goals. Adpulp.com is the conduit by which this help is offered. Thanks for reading. Now, reach out to me via email and start to work with better writers who will help your company communicate its marketplace value.