The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

How Many Creative People Are Really Creative?
May 30, 2012, 6:14 am
Filed under: Comment

So every year, various magazines release their list of ‘creative people’.

Unlike adland, they look broad rather than narrow which is why every year, adland generally fails to appear anywhere on the list.

That said, even when they do, it’s often because of one campaign – which is probably why, this year, Fast Company decided to celebrate some guy at JWT Shanghai rather than Dan Wieden.

Look, I have nothing against Elvis Chau [#84] but with the greatest respect, as lovely as his Samonsite ad – not campaign, ad – is, I have to question whether that truly makes him more creative than say Vivi Zigler, President of NBCUniversal digital entertainment [#89] or Carla Schmitzberger, President of Havaianas [#97] or Sally Grimes, Global vice president of Sharpie [#100]

OK, so obviously Fast Company thinks it does – which is fair enough – but it makes me question whether Fast Companies criteria and methodology for working out who appears on this list might be a teensy bit flawed.

But this is not what this post is about.

For me, it’s far scarier that adland – an industry that sells itself on it’s ability to be commercially creative – continually fails to appear anywhere significant on these lists.

To me, that is what should worry us all.

OK, so some of it might be because we don’t have the same amount of publicists as others on this list do [Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Twitter’s Manager of Social Innovation – #21 – really???] but maybe it’s because we’re just not as creative as we like to think we are.

Yes, I’ve said it.

Maybe we’re just not that good.

OK, so some people obviously are but as I’ve said previously, anyone can do something of note every now and then, the real test of your creative skill is whether you can continually do it and do it in a way that affects culture, not just the advertising industry.

This obsession with pleasing our peers is literally fucking our future.

Adland is capable of doing amazing things.

Big … bold … powerful … meaningful and commercial things … but unless, as David Ogilvy said, we get back to craving the ringing of our clients cash registers rather than our peers applause, we’re forever going to stifle our commercial creative chops which could be another reason we don’t appear more regularly on meaningless ‘creative’ tables.

Though judging by some of who Fast Company celebrate, I doubt it.


36 Comments so far
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well thats just opened a massive can of fuck you.

excellent work, i can even overlook that this post was powered almost entirely on fucking jealousy.

Comment by andy@cynic

I think it would be similar to how you feel when you win an Effie.

I’ve won a few of those and the overall reaction is you feel good for about 12 hours and then you remember the whole thing is utterly, utterly flawed.

Come to think of it, it’s like winning an Oscar too.

Do you like how I just connected an advertising effectiveness award to one of the World’s most ‘glam’ events? That’s reframing excellence right there.

Comment by Rob

appearing in fast company is like appearing on american idol. you think its cool. you think youve made it. then you realise they just used you to fill another fucking page.

Comment by andy@cynic

fuck me, the write ups of each person is more fucking over the top than a linkedin profile.

Comment by andy@cynic

that samonite ad is scamfuckingtastic.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s great. I bet everyone who saw it bought a samsonite bag. All 3 of the cannes jury members.

Comment by Billy Whizz

is that meant to be a scam joke because if it is, it fell flat on its fucking face. 10 for effort. -10 for delivery. as fucking usual.

Comment by andy@cynic

It wasn’t that bad was it?

Comment by Billy Whizz

Don’t ask a question where you might not like the possible answer.

Comment by DH

Appearing in Fast Company is like appearing on a dating website exclusively for hipsters. I don’t know what that means, but that’s not important right now.

Comment by DH

It means you get laid by someone who insists you use a free trade condom.

Comment by Billy Whizz

that twitter innovation job has to be a fucking joke hasnt it?

what she do? move it from 139 characters to 140?

Comment by andy@cynic

makes the “planner” job title seem almost respectable.

Comment by andy@cynic

These accolades are nice to receive, have a small amount of cache but are ultimately meaningless, even more so if you never apart on them again. One hit wonders as it were.
Does anyone know if there has been a time advertising professionals have regularly appeared on this list or have they always been notable by their absence?

Comment by George

one hit wonder? like cutting crew. mr mister. living in a fucking box. owen paul and anyone else who stupidly had campbell play with them.

Comment by andy@cynic

the one hit wonders on fast companies list should feel fuckin honoured to be in such illustrious company as those musical fucking car crashes.

Comment by andy@cynic

as for your question. thats a good question except for one tiny point. who the fuck cares.

Comment by andy@cynic

Why are they called fast company but haven’t gone anywhere?

False advertising. No wonder they don’t put adland in their list.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Better than your cannes joke above.

Comment by DH

Great post with a great point Robert.

This really isn’t about Fast Company’s “most creative” list, that is obviously inherently flawed, this is about adlands continued reluctance to accept their role in the destruction of their industries lack of relevance, power and influence.

Their attitude appears to be that as long as they can squeeze revenue out of their ever decreasing client pool, all is OK. That sort of short sightedness has ruined many industries, for all their talk about being visionary, their actions say the opposite.

Comment by Pete

youre so much fucking more interesting when youre bitching.

Comment by andy@cynic

There is only one ranking in the world that matters: The Eurovision Song Contest. Adland should look to them for how to make people love and really care about recycled cultural refuse. Just sayin…

Comment by Ella

Fine point Ella. I love Eurovision, but then I love Queen so what the hell is everyone else’s excuse?

Comment by Rob

There’s nothing funnier than bad music taken very seriously
And the female singers tend to be fit

Comment by northern

The word creative lost all meaning to me about 10 years ago when I saw a job spec’ for a “creative account”. We’ve discussed this before – hell, you even stole my “creative industry” thing and used it at conferences.

These things have no meaning. The word has no meaning. When used in connection with the advertising industry it is just a grubby little word.

Comment by Marcus

Yes, but I told you I’d done it which is already 99% better than a lot of the ‘theft’ that adland [allegedly] undertakes … even though they claim it’s the result of being ‘inspired’.

The thing that really cemented how flawed adland can be is when someone pointed out that it’s the only industry that has business cards that labels someone ‘creative’. Authors don’t say it. Musician don’t say it. Engineers don’t say it. They just do … and until the industry on mass accepts this is the true definition of whether someone is ‘creative’ or not, then we will continue to see our circle of influence decline.

Comment by Rob

I know you told me, you silly, you. I was actually quite proud that you pinched it. xxx

Comment by Marcus

Well, your blog appears to like Northern laptops again. Whatever I did, it would appear that I’m forgiven. It’s probabpy the picture of my daughter I posted on the blog, that beaming little smile can cut through even the Chinese firewall.
Anyway, I can’t agree enough about an industry talking to itself. I remember being ‘taught’ how to write IPA papers,which meant, how to write stuff the judges were looking for. I even remember getting into a blazing row with a certain planning director who wouldn’t submit a paper in front of her coven on the IPA Effectiveness committe, not because it was wrong, she agreed it had something both useful and ‘disruptive’ (fuck me) to say to the industry – it’s just that it not only didn;t use econometrics, it skewered the use of econometrics at all.
As for ‘being creative’ I’m continually amazed at how that seems to mean ‘a line’ or a ‘visual idea’ the most useful thing I seem to say in creative reviews (over and over again unfortunately) is ‘what’s the idea’ and how no one seems to be able to fucking tell me, but they love the ‘line’ or the ‘art directional style’.

Comment by northern

Yes, I love it when people tell me the idea and it’s an ad line. Sure, some ideas can be articulated in a pithy way [my moped was ‘the 4×4 on 2 wheels’] but that still isn’t an idea, it’s a concept and I’d argue, it’s a better concept than many agencies can come up with that they then claim is the second coming.

The best thing I ever did was work with great business people [Yes Lee, you] … it helped me understand what a real idea was and how to express it beyond a few words that then has a bunch of pictures put around it and called “A Cannes Gold Winner”.

Comment by Rob

It’s easy to sneer at the people who have rewritten the meaning of “an idea”, but we should be saving our dismay for the senior individuals who are allowing that misconception to flourish within the minds of the departments. It’s wrong, but who to blame is mucg broader than we often acknowledge.

Comment by George

youre so fucking fair it makes me fucking sick.

Comment by andy@cynic

“the minds of the departments” – if individuals are subsumed into a department and leave their mind at the door, surely they deserve more than our dismay George.

Comment by John

Good point John. It was a bad choice of words rather than a reflection of my attitude towards process and behaviour.

Comment by George

you would say that wouldnt you. keep trying to lull people into thinking youre a decent upstanding guy, it might work one day. not on me thought, i know youre a porno cake buying planning bastard.

youre up late doddsy, out at some shoreditch speaker wank?

Comment by andy@cynic

Flittting between a John Cooper Clarke doco and a Nobel laureate economist on Newsnight. No hipsters in sight.

Comment by John

Great perspective and you’re always as brave as usual when it comes to honesty sharp writings, Rob. I believe that Fast Company should have a clear method on how to measure creativity from some notable creative people in all industries. Could it just simply come from audience vote, filtering on each sector, achievement, region, or else? Creative is something of which I believe can’t be measured, it’s a product of personal subjectivity. This is to be certain different from how to measure “wealth”, for example. So, why there should be a rank if the measurement is absurd, Sir? And if there comes some version of “creative list of people”, there shall be another big question rises in the air of “Why don’t they put …. (instead of Adland) on the list?”

Comment by Nia

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